Chase Capsules: Matt Kenseth


20-Matt Kenseth
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Crew Chief: Jason Ratcliff
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships: 1 (2003)
11th Chase Appearance, Best Finish of 2nd (2006, 2013)

Regular Season Recap: After a seven-win season in 2013, observers expected Kenseth to be one of the first drivers to lock into this year’s Chase with a victory. But with JGR suffering from a lack of power compared to the dominant Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske, Kenseth instead made the postseason by pretty much doing what got him the 2003 title and what he’s always done over the course of his career: Racking up Top-5s and Top-10s. Squeezing out solid finishes when wins aren’t in the cards is perhaps his greatest quality as a driver.

Chris’ Take: Winning is the fastest way to move through the new Chase, but failing that, you have to be able to run towards the front. We don’t have to worry about the latter with Kenseth when he avoids trouble. But while his consistency can take him through the first two rounds of the Chase, it may not be enough to get him to Homestead with a chance at his second Cup title. Toyota’s overall power deficit has Kenseth and his JGR teammates entering the postseason at a disadvantage. Because of that, I can’t help but think that the Eliminator Round is as far as Kenseth will get.

Jerry’s Take: I don’t know why, but I’ve been saying this for probably the last seven or eight weeks: Matt Kenseth is to the 2014 season that Tony Stewart was to the 2011 campaign. Stewart did not win one race in the 26-race regular season, and then went on to win a record five races in the Chase and en route to the championship. We think Kenseth is cut from the same mold. If he goes into the Chase without a win, we think he’s good for at least two or three in the playoffs. Kenseth is one of those drivers who definitely steps up his game in the Chase, and this could be the biggest step-up that he may ever face.

Tony’s Take: An odd second year for Kenseth, whose win drought has been one of the stories of the year. Always the measure of consistency, but this format doesn’t really set up for a title run. Yet if there’s anyone who could advance through this new Chase purely on consistency, Kenseth’s your guy. If he finishes high enough ahead of the other Chasers throughout the first few rounds and bags a win, he could well end up advancing through to Homestead. I wouldn’t bet on it happening, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Matt Kenseth’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – 1 win, 3 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 13 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – 1 win, 7 Top-5s, 15 Top-10s in 29 starts
Dover (1 mile) – 2 wins, 14 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s in 31 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – 2 wins, 6 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 17 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – 2 wins, 9 Top-5s, 16 Top-10s in 30 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – 1 win, 5 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 29 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – No wins, 4 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 29 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – 2 wins, 13 Top-5s, 17 Top-10s in 24 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – 1 win, 5 Top-5s, 9 Top-10s in 24 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – 1 win, 4 Top-5s, 6 Top-10s in 14 starts

Seattle Supercross by the numbers: Three riders separated by 17 points


Three riders remain locked in a tight battle with 17 points separating the leader Cooper Webb from third-place Chase Sexton and these are only a few Supercross numbers to consider entering Seattle.

Seattle Supercross numbers
Chase Sexton made a statement in Detroit with his second win of 2023. – Feld Motor Sports

For the fifth time in 10 rounds. Sexton, Webb, and Eli Tomac shared the podium in Detroit. Between them, the trio has taken 23 podiums, leaving only seven for the remainder of the field. Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia have two each with Aaron Plessinger scoring the other.

Webb and Tomac won the last four championships with two apiece in alternating years, but they were not one another’s primary rival for most of those seasons. On the average, however, the past four years show an incredible similarity with average points earned of 21.0 for Webb and 21.3 for Tomac. With five wins so far this season, Tomac (23 wins) leads Webb (19) in victories but Webb (43) edges Tomac (41) in podium finishes during this span.

Tomac has won two of the last three Seattle races and those two wins in this stadium are topped only by James Stewart. Fittingly, if Tomac gets a third win this week, he will tie Stewart for second on the all-time wins’ list. Tomac tied Ricky Carmichael for third with 48 wins at Oakland and took sole possession of that spot with his Daytona win.

Sexton still has a lot to say and after winning last week in Detroit, he is speaking up. The Supercross numbers are against him entering Seattle, however, because a points’ deficit this large after Round 10 has been erased only once. In 1983 David Bailey was 47 points behind Bob Hannah, and like Sexton he was also in third place. Bailey took the points’ lead with one race remaining.

The seven points Sexton was penalized last week for jumping in a red cross flag section in Detroit could prove extremely costly.

In fact, it has been a series of mistakes that has cost Sexton the most. In the last two weeks, he lost 10 points with a 10th-place finish to go with his penalty. Erase those, and all three riders hold their fate in their hands.

Plessinger’s heartbreak in Detroit is still fresh, but the upside of his run is that was his best of the season and could turn his fortunes around. Prior to that race, he led only seven laps in three mains. He was up front for 20 laps in Detroit with five of those being the fastest on the track.

Last week’s win by Hunter Lawrence tied him with his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list. With the focus shifting to 250 West for the next two rounds, Jett has a great opportunity to pull back ahead. The real test will be at the first East / West Showdown in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 22.

Last Five Seattle Winners

2022: Eli Tomac
2019: Marvin Musquin
2018: Eli Tomac
2017: Marvin Musquin
2014: Ryan Villopoto

2022: Hunter Lawrence
2019: Dylan Ferrandis
2018: Aaron Plessinger
2017: Aaron Plessinger
2014: Cole Seely

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Power Rankings after Detroit
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Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points