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Joe Gibbs Racing driver looks to bounce back from winless season RELATED: Full schedule of driver previews Team: Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Rank in final 2014 standings: Seventh Wins: None Year in photos: Recap Kenseth's 2014 season Strides: "Highlight of our season? That's a tough one because we didn't win any races," Kenseth said when asked about 2014 superlatives. The winner of a career-best seven races after making the move to JGR in 2013, Kenseth and the No. 20 team couldn’t find their way to Victory Lane once the '14 season got under way. But by the end of the year, Kenseth actually had more top-five (13) and top-10 (22) finishes than he managed the previous year. He also qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the 10th time, advancing through two rounds before being eliminated in the Eliminator Round. In addition to earning two pole positions, Kenseth posted a career-best second-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Actually, Kenseth wasn't shut out of Victory Lane entirely -- he did collect a checkered flag in the season-ending Nationwide (now XFINITY ) Series event at Homestead, and won one of the two qualifying races prior to the Daytona 500 . "Winning the first (Duel) race at Daytona was probably the highlight, going out and feeling like we were going to be pretty competitive there; Denny (Hamlin) won the second one, we won the first one," Kenseth said. "At the time I didn't think that would be our highlight, but that was probably one of them. "We had a lot of solid races but none that really stand out, where I was like 'Man, that was just an awesome day' because we didn't get any wins." Setbacks: The lack of wins -- it was his first shutout season since 2010 -- and a lack of get-to-the-front speed proved to be the team's undoing. But Kenseth said it wasn't a single item that held the team back throughout the course of the 36-race season. Down the stretch, he and his team remained in contention. A third-place finish at Phoenix in the Eliminator Round finale saw him finish just outside the cutoff for advancing to the Championship Round. "Exceptionally fast" the previous year, Kenseth said "between the aero changes (in '14) and getting the car down on the track, we just didn't seem to have a handle on it the way we did the year before. Our balance was just way off and we could never get it fixed the way we wanted it." Quoteworthy: "I feel like we did a really good job this year with what we had to work with. None of our cars were near as fast as they were last year." What's next: While expansion and a crew chief shuffle at JGR will have new faces in new places for '15, Kenseth's group will have a familiar look. Jason Ratcliff returns for a third season as crew chief, a non-change that Kenseth feels good about. Kenseth said he's also looking forward to the the latest changes to the rules package, moves that will take away a bit of horsepower and lessen downforce. "Hopefully that will make it a little easier to pass in traffic; hopefully it will make the cars a little freer," he said. "They just had so much spoiler on them last year and were always so tight. I'm hoping that will help. It's the same for everybody but hopefully it will help." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver holds off Kyle Busch to win final race of Nationwide's tenure MORE: Full EcoBoost 300 results " Final Nationwide Series standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Charging away from a pack of pursuers on the final restart, Matt Kenseth scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win since October of last year in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Chase Elliott, who had clinched the driver’s championship last Saturday in Phoenix, finished 17th after scraping the outside wall late in the race. Brad Keselowski delivered the Nationwide Series owner’s championship to Roger Penske with an eighth-place result in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. In a mere formality, Elliott also received Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, making the him the first driver to win both a rookie title and a series championship in the same year in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. At age 18, Elliott also is the youngest national touring series champion in NASCAR history. After losing the lead to Kyle Larson after a restart on Lap 199 of a scheduled 200, Kenseth got a second chance when NASCAR threw the 11th caution of the race for a multicar wreck behind the leader moments before Larson was to take the white flag signaling the final lap, which would have made him a winner under the caution. Instead, Kenseth pulled ahead from the outside lane after a restart on Lap 205 and took the checkered flag on the sixth lap of overtime. Kyle Busch won a drag race to the finish line to take the runner-up spot from Larson, who held third. Ryan Blaney and rookie Chris Buescher completed the top five. Kenseth won for Joe Gibbs Racing in the final outing with the company for crew chief Kevin Kidd, who moves to Roush Fenway Racing next year as director of competition in the Sprint Cup Series. “It’s been a long time since I won a race in anything, so just happy for Kevin,” Kenseth said. “Happy to send him off with a win here. That was pretty cool. Kyle got around me on that second-to-last restart, but when he chose the bottom there, and I had Kyle (Busch) behind me, I knew we had a shot. “I just had to do a better job than I did the time before, so luckily, we got that one last chance to redeem ourselves.” Larson, who led 111 laps, spun his tires slightly on the final restart, allowing Kenseth to take the advantage. “I had good restarts up there until the last 50 laps or so,” Larson said. “Then I finally got a good one underneath Matt (on Lap 199) and was able to get to the lead… I was about 15 feet short of the win. Then we got the yellow, and I thought the 12 (Blaney) had been getting really good restarts, so I wanted to start in front of him (in the bottom lane). “Spun my tires a little bit, and the 20 ( Kenseth ) was hanging there. I was side-drafting down the frontstretch, and he was able to swerve at me and get me shaken off him. That spun my tires into (Turn) 1, and got me sideways. I was three-wide there, and that was all the 20 needed to win.” Penske won the owner’s championship with five different drivers taking turns in the No. 22 Ford: Keselowski, Joey Logano , Ryan Blaney , Michael McDowell and Alex Tagliani . The championship was the fourth for Penske in the last five years (2010 Nationwide driver’s title with Keselowski, 2012 Sprint Cup title with Keselowski and back-to-back NNS owner’s championships). “Everyone did so much to make this happen, and obviously it didn't come down until the last lap there until we knew we had it,” Penske said. “Two years in a row, I think we had four championships here over the last few years, and that's really important to us as we go forward.” MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup seventh-place finisher, Matt Kenseth , gives a speech at the Sprint Cup Series Awards.
Get to know Matt Kenseth's No. 20 pit crew
Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman are forced to pit road after they get caught up in a four-wide battle on the restart.
2003 champion says everyone has breaking point MORE: Keselowski responds " Full timeline of events in Kenseth -Keselowski dust up RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Everyone has his or her "breaking point," Matt Kenseth said, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver reached his following contact from Brad Keselowski during and after Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kenseth pursued the Team Penske driver moments after the completion of the Bank of America 500 , grabbing Keselowski before crewmen from both teams, along with officials, rushed in to separate the two drivers. "Last week it was bad enough to run bad all night and to be frustrated; then get two tires and get toward the front (near the end of the race) -- Brad clearly saw me roll outside of him and he hung a right on purpose and he ran me right into the wall, ruined my night and possibly took us out of Chase contention," Kenseth said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . "So I was mad enough about that. To come down afterward and have your (safety equipment) off and your net down and come and pull those high school stunts … after the race is just absolutely unacceptable. "That definitely put me over the edge. I don't regret my actions; I'm not proud of them or happy about them or anything like that. … But I don't regret them. I don't know that I'd do anything different if the same thing would have gone down again." Keselowski moved up the track during a late-race restart, thwarting Kenseth's momentum and resulting in contact with the wall. Later, with six laps remaining, Kenseth was one of several drivers to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap without pitting. At that time, he said Friday, he did "swerve" at Keselowski "because I was mad he put me in the wall and totally ruined my day." Keselowski said after the race that Kenseth "came back and swung at my car and tore the front of the car off." Kenseth said the 2012 champion "is greatly exaggerating." "If you watch video you can see he had no marks on his right front of his car after that," Kenseth said. "He said it tore his whole right front off. … That was just him greatly exaggerating the story." As the field began to make its way to pit road, Keselowski attempted to spin Denny Hamlin (JGR), then struck the side of Kenseth's car as they came onto pit road. Keselowski ran into the back of Tony Stewart after hitting Kenseth . Stewart reacted by putting his car in reverse and backing into Keselowski, crumpling the front end of the No. 2 Ford. Hamlin attempted to confront Keselowski in the garage area, but all parties had gone their separate ways when Kenseth went after the Team Penske driver. "I just wanted to get to him, I guess," Kenseth said. "Not sure what I wanted to do when I got there. It was obvious I didn't really have a plan, right? "You never want to get into confrontations, at least I don't. I like to avoid them. I'm definitely not built for fighting; it's not really in my genes, it's not something I ever really want to do." NASCAR fined Keselowski ($50,000) and Stewart ($25,000) for their actions and placed both drivers on probation for the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. The sanctioning body did not penalize Kenseth or Hamlin. Three of the four -- Kenseth , Keselowski and Hamlin -- are among 10 drivers vying for one of eight spots in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Two spots have already been determined, with wins by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick automatically advancing those two drivers. Hamlin enters Sunday's GEICO 500 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET) seventh in points; Kenseth and Keselowski are two of four drivers currently outside the top eight, along with six-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . "I was probably more upset about getting (run) into the wall than I would have maybe been on week two of the season," Kenseth said. "There's probably a little bit (of frustration) there and some of that is frustration from the season of not running to our potential and being taken out of the Chase." Kenseth , the 2003 series champion, won seven races with JGR last year in his first season with the organization, but is winless thus far this year. "The stuff afterward of getting hit after the race, my reaction to that was besides taking my stuff off and thinking it's ridiculous to get hurt after a race is over by somebody acting like a little kid using a car for a weapon," he said. "I thought that was ridiculous, but that's the second time he's done that this year just to me. After the Richmond race he came and wiped us out down in Turn 2 and then came down pit road and took another slug at me and knocked the side off our car. "Besides people having to pay for (the cars) and work on them and all that stuff, it's just not acceptable. After that happening again was probably most of my reaction." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Joe Gibbs Racing driver hopes Kevin Harvick performs well Sunday RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota FORT WORTH, Texas -- Matt Kenseth said he hopes to see Kevin Harvick win one of the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, an unusual admission from a fellow competitor. But Kenseth , driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, knows he is to blame for the position Harvick finds himself in today. Contact from Kenseth sent the Stewart-Haas Racing driver into the wall last week at Martinsville Speedway , and the damage led to a 33rd-place finish, a drop from second to eighth in the points standings and the position of facing elimination from this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only four of the top eight will advance to Homestead, and only Texas and Phoenix remain in between. Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet has consistently been one of the fastest this season and the 38-year-old has three wins, including one in the Chase. Now, he has two races in which to regain what was lost in Turn 1 and keep his championship hopes alive. The two drivers chatted briefly before the start of practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Kenseth , speaking to the media earlier in the day, said he "couldn't feel any worse" about Harvick's situation. "I hope he has a really good week this week or next week and wins one of these races, and even if he doesn't, I think he'll run good enough, hopefully get in that last round," Kenseth said. "Because I know he doesn't want to get taken out of it for something he had nothing to do with, and I certainly don't want to be the guy that takes him out of it, so hopefully it all works out in the end." Kenseth's car sustained only minor damage in the Martinsville incident, and a sixth-place finish left him fourth in points heading into this week's race. Afterward, Harvick didn't promise retaliation, but said that Kenseth wouldn't "win this championship." "If we don't, he won't," Harvick said. Kenseth said Friday retaliation wasn't a concern, adding that, "I can only control my own car and what I do, and obviously I did a poor job of that last weekend." "I can't fix the situation," he added. "It's done. It's kind of like the guy that causes the wreck at Talladega, he feels terrible about it and … ruined a lot of people's day from the mistake he made. "Last week (at Martinsville) it was the same way, it was just, unfortunately (I) wrecked Kevin who was probably the favorite going into the Chase. It was terrible timing, wrong place at the wrong time. I understand his frustration; I would be just as frustrated." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
2012 series champion discusses incident with Joe Gibbs Racing driver MORE: Full coverage of Kenseth -Keselowski incident " Kenseth : 'I don't regret my actions' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize TALLADEGA, Ala. – Brad Keselowski , fined $50,000 following last week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway , isn't ready to discuss if he regrets his actions. One of four drivers outside the top eight in points in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Keselowski said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway that "I haven't put a lot of thought into it, to be honest." "I have been busy testing at Martinsville (Speedway) and getting ready for this weekend," he said. "It is a huge weekend for me and our team where we have to really pull out a clutch moment and I don't want to lose sight of that by spending a whole bunch of time on all that other garbage. "I am not going to say I haven't spent any time on it but I didn't spend enough to really have all my thoughts and feelings put together enough to share it." Keselowski struck the driver’s side of Matt Kenseth 's car as the field came to pit road following the completion of last week's Bank of America 500 . He also ran into the back of Tony Stewart 's car, unintentionally it appeared. He was pursued by Denny Hamlin as the two made their way through the garage area, and by night's end was involved in an altercation with Kenseth between two team haulers. Kenseth called Keselowski's actions on the track, which also included contact on a late-race restart, "high school stunts." Keselowski said he was aware of his fellow competitor's comments, included talking about an incident at Richmond earlier this year as well as damage he contends Kenseth did to his Team Penske entry while taking the "wave around" following a late caution. "We had a little contact at Richmond," he said. As for the contact, "( Kenseth ) is always entitled to his opinion as I am to mine. We are both entitled to (our) opinions. Obviously we have a difference of them or what happened Saturday wouldn't have happened." Both Keselowski and Stewart were fined for their post-race actions at CMS last week (NASCAR officials clipped Stewart for $25,000). "Maybe I should have had a bigger one, I don't know," Keselowski said. "I thought (Sprint Cup Series Managing Director) Richard Buck was really classy and I thought that was really nice of him. It isn't something that I didn't understand." Other drivers weren't pointing fingers or placing blame a week after the incident, instead citing the pressure of the new format along with the pressure of competing against 42 others for the better part of a year. Disagreements are going to occur. "We all have frustrations toward each other at some point," Richard Childress Racing's Ryan Newman said. "And we can get along with each other five days later. That's part of what we do." Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said Keselowski's "always been a pretty tough racer. "He's in a position where he doesn't want to be in right now, along with a few other guys," Johnson said. "When you're in that position, it's hard to hit that 100-percent mark. Sometimes you end up at 105 or 120 and you end up doing things you might not want to or make little mistakes that cost others." Keselowski, along with Johnson, Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., are outside the top eight in points heading into Sunday’s GEICO 500 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET). Only the top eight remain in title contention and two of those eight slots have already been taken by Contender Round winners Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick . Keselowski said he isn't worried about losing the respect of his peers. Earning that respect is important, but "I think you have to temper that with the knowledge that when you are successful you are a target. "That isn't just me, that is everyone," he said. "That is just part of the ebbs and flows we talk about all the time." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Joe Gibbs Racing driver's Chase confidence at a low after mediocre season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Wins aren't the only thing that have been down for Matt Kenseth . His confidence in winning a second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title this year has also taken a bit of a tumble. The 2003 premier series champion returns to Bristol Motor Speedway as the defending Irwin Tools Night Race champion and the fifth-place driver in the points standings. At this point last year, he was sixth in the standings. His top-fives through 23 races? Eight this year, compared to five last season. The difference, of course, is victories. The 42-year-old had a series-leading four of them one year ago (five after the Bristol race) and has zero this year. His No. 20 Toyota has yet to take that sweet ride to Victory Lane, and really hasn't been close -- he has no runner-up showings and only two third-place results, which came in back-to-back weeks at Charlotte and Dover. "Last year we had four wins up to this point, were on a few poles, we led a ton of laps," Kenseth said. "Obviously we haven't performed like that (in 2014). Last year, the way we were performing, my confidence for winning a championship was way greater, of course. It should be pretty obvious. " … My confidence isn't near as high with how we're running at this point. I have a ton of confidence in my team and my organization, and my pit crew has been doing better than ever. We've just been off on speed a little bit." It's been that way for all of Joe Gibbs Racing , actually. It's an interesting dynamic with Kenseth easily the highest of the organization's three drivers in the points standings, but Kyle Busch (15th) and Denny Hamlin (20th) have a victory apiece. That victory guarantees Busch and Hamlin a spot in the postseason field -- provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining three races -- while Kenseth , although he's in a fine spot, has no such assurances. And just making the Chase isn't enough for Kenseth or his teammates, which is why the missing speed problem has become amplified. "Just because you're in the Chase doesn't mean you have a chance to win the championship," Kenseth said. "There's going to be a lot of cars in the Chase that aren't going to have a prayer. "Certainly with three weeks to go until the Chase, even if all three of us get in, we realize that we have to be running better to have a legitimate shot at winning (the title). And we're all working really hard at that." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule