JGR Duo Leaves Dover a Bit Frustrated

Matt Kenseth

"We kind of missed it today." (Photo: Getty Images)

DOVER, Del. - The one man they wanted to keep behind, they couldn’t. After two weeks of dominating performances, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch lost points Sunday to Jimmie Johnson in the title Chase.

Kenseth left Dover International Speedway disappointed with a seventh-place finish in the AAA 400. Johnson’s win shaved 10 points on his deficit to Kenseth. Johnson trails by eight points heading into this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.

“We kind of missed it today,’’ Kenseth said after seeing his two-race winning streak snapped.

Kyle Busch finished fifth. Remarkably, his average finish in the Chase is 3.0 - same as Kenseth’s - but Busch is third in the standings, 12 points behind Kenseth.

“We were about a fifth-to-seventh-place  car much of the day,’’ Busch said. “It’s frustrating to be fifth, but, yet, you look at the grand scheme of things and it’s three straight top-fives to start the Chase, so no bad.’’

Their hopes of a better finish were sealed on the final restart. Kenseth exited pit road third and Busch fifth. That put both on the inside lane for the restart. The leader had always chosen the outside lane because it was the better lane.

“The inside lane just doesn’t get going here,’’ Busch said. “I think it’s because you’re lower in the bowl than the outside lane is and you’re coming up out of it and you’re just having to come uphill. The more uphill you have to go ... it’s harder whether you’re a human being or mechanical horsepower.’’

Kenseth also faced other challenges on that restart

“We got caught with being the last on two tires and restarting on the inside, which was really bad,’’ he said. “Still salvaged a respectable finish, but certainly I wanted to do better than that.’’

Kenseth’s finish follows his win last week at New Hamsphire, a track he admits he’s struggled.

“Loudon has always been one of my worst tracks, and this has always been one of my best, so you just never know what’s going to happen,’’ Kenseth said. “I feel good about this stretch - Dover, Kansas, Charlotte - all have been great tracks I really enjoy (and) that our performance has been pretty at it.’’

Busch also had his ups and downs during the race.

“We didn’t make any gains on it really this weekend, which is frustrating, but, yet, we knew we had a good car,’’ he said. “We could have run better here. We have before and just could never really get the feel that I was looking for the whole weekend with the front tires.

“It just wasn’t fast enough. We just didn’t have quite enough front turn like some of the other cars had. We’ve definitely got to go work on a different package for here.’’

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