After the season's first Dover race, it sure looked like Matt Kenseth was going to grab a win or two more before the Chase and put himself at the top of the points reset.
Dover was Kenseth's second win of the season, and since then has nine top 10s and what could have been a near-win, when he pushed teammate David Ragan to a win — brightening Ragan's Chase hopes for a brief period of time.
But with the good runs, there have also been some ugliness. In the three races between his wins at Texas and Dover, Kenseth finished 35th, 21st and 25th. If that happens in the Chase, Kenseth's toast.
Kenseth's best Chase track: That would be Texas, where Flatline has an average finish of ninth. He was also close to winning the fall race last year, losing to Denny Hamlin on a green-white-checker restart.
Kenseth's worst Chase track: It's technically a tie with Talladega, but we'll go with Kansas and his 19.3 average finish. That's kind of surprising given Kenseth's success on intermediate tracks. If he wants to be a serious Chase contender, he'll have to improve on that.
Key Question: Can Kenseth grab top 10s at all five intermediate tracks in the Chase? If he does, you're looking at a serious championship contender.
NB's prediction: 8th. Maybe it was a simple off-the-cuff oversight, but it was interesting that Tony Stewart didn't list Kenseth as one of the guys who could win the Chase. (Smoke didn't list himself either, by the way.) It helps that the two tracks Flatline's won at earlier this year are in the Chase and if he can repeat at both, maybe Kenseth can join Smoke as the only two drivers to win non-Chase and Chase titles.