For a time Sunday it looked as though the driver who has more NASCAR Sprint Cup series wins this season than any other would add one more at Talladega Superspeedway. Matt Kenseth, the defending Talladega race winner led 32 laps on the day and looked to be the car to beat.
In the second half of the 188 lap affair though it began to unravel. Kenseth’s Toyota began to drop back and suddenly he was on the radio complaining that the car was so loose he felt like he could spin out any moment.
"It was really bizarre,” Kenseth said. “Typically, handling is a non-issue here and we just got so loose I couldn't even hang on to it. I pretty much had to run in the back for two runs which was disappointing. “
Kenseth said he didn’t think there was anything actually wrong with the car.
"I guess not because after the last pit stop it drove good again,” he said. “It drove fine that last pit stop. I was just -- after the last one, I was just -- I kind of got stuck three-wide on the bottom and then we actually hung in by the lead for a long time. And then they just -- when they got me shuffled back to the very bottom somebody went outside three-wide to make me on the bottom and just you're no good down there, so I fell back, got back up to 10th or 12th on the outside and then I thought everybody would mix it up at the end and try to make a race out of it, but everybody stayed up on the top and pedaled it.”
“That was my bad,” he said. “I guess I should have just been happy with 10th, but I just have a hard time doing that."
Instead of 10th, Kenseth ended the day with a 20th place finish and fell from the point standings for the first time since the Chase started. He may be only four points behind new leader Jimmie Johnson, who finished 13th Sunday, but the next stop is Martinsville Speedway a track where Johnson has eight wins including the last two races there. Kenseth has never won there and finished 14th in each of the last two races.
"I don't think it will affect my team,” Kenseth said. “I think I have one of the greatest teams out here obviously and I feel like we can go everywhere else, and honestly we can race with anybody when we're at our best. Hopefully, we'll be at our best the next four weeks and we'll give them a run for their money. It was just an incredibly disappointing day.”