The Washington Redskins are 0-3, but their former head coach is enjoying a wonderful fall – thus far.
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) drivers have finished first and second in each of the first two Chase for the Sprint Cup races. Matt Kenseth, who switched from Roush Fenway Racing to JGR this year, won the first two races. JGR teammate Kyle Busch finished second both weeks.
Gibbs is hoping Kenseth and Busch turn in another repeat performance Sunday at the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Dover is a good track for Kenseth. He has two wins and 13 Top 5’s in 29 career starts. His average finish at Dover is between ninth and 10th place. He finished fourth at Dover in the spring.
Only one NASCAR driver has a better track record than Kenseth at Dover: Jimmie Johnson. The five-time NASCAR champion has seven victories in 23 starts at Dover. His average finish is seventh place, which is, far and away, the best average finish at Dover by anyone on the NASCAR circuit.
Johnson trails Kenseth by 18 points. He is four points behind Busch, who is in second place. Johnson finished an uncharacteristic 17th earlier this year at Dover.
Just as Johnson trails Kenseth by 18 points, there is an 18-point gap between Johnson and Carl Edwards, who is in fourth place. The standings get bunched closely together after Edwards. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, a four-time winner at Dover, are all within six points of Edwards.
The first race at Dover this year, the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks, featured Chase drivers in the top eight spots. Johnson picked up his seventh Dover win. He was followed across the finish line by Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kenseth, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch. Gordon finished 11th and Greg Biffle finished 13th.
Johnson struggled mightily during the month prior to the start of the Chase. He recovered to finish fifth and fourth, respectively, in the first two Chase races. If Johnson prevails at Dover, the No. 48 might ride that momentum all the way to another NASCAR championship.
On the other hand, Kenseth almost looks unbeatable. His two Chase victories aren’t flukes. He won five races, more than any other driver, during the races prior to the Chase.
Don’t forget about Kyle Busch. He and Kenseth are teammates with JGR, but don’t think for a moment that Busch doesn’t want to reverse the finishing order of the past two races.
Teammates competing against each other? That’s something Gibbs didn’t have to worry about when he was coaching football.
On the other hand, a victory by either Kenseth or Kyle Busch on Sunday will make Gibbs 3-0 in this year’s Chase. At 0-3, his former football team can be forgiven for being a tad jealous.