NASCAR Just Found Its Best Storyline In A Driver (Who Is Too Old) – Forbes
If there really is justice in the skidding world of NASCAR, a good-natured, soft-spoken 45-year-old veteran from Cambridge, Wis., named Matthew Roy Kenseth will win his second Cup championship later this fall. This antithesis to the stock-car marketing model might even help at the box office
Matt Kenseth lost one of his corporate sponsors before this season, then lost his ride for next season for powerful Joe Gibbs Racing in July to Erik Jones, a 21-year-old hotshot from Michigan who is on the rise in stock-car racing — which, of course, certainly helps him sell stuff.
Later in July, Kenseth was passed over in Hendrick Motorsports’ search for a 2018 replacement for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring after the season. Alex Bowman, who has never won in 133 races in NASCAR’s top three series (but is 24), got the coveted ride.
Kenseth, who won the title in 2003 because he was consistent more than excellent, could have, or even should have, pretty much packed it in after that for Gibbs. But he stayed in contention for one of 16 playoff berths with six top-10 finishes in a span of seven races.
Then came Saturday’s bizarre race at Richmond, Va.
Kenseth essentially would make the 10-race playoffs if he won the race, or a driver who’d already won a race this year won again. But there were 19 other drivers, including Earnhardt and Jones, who were vying for their first victory of the season. This race had become a big deal.
Past the halfway point of the 400-lap race on the three-quarter-mile track, Austin Dillon (already in the playoffs) spun Danica Patrick (out of the playoffs) into the wall, causing a caution. NASCAR opened the pits, dispatching an ambulance for Patrick and Dillon, who were unhurt.
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