Willwerth: NASCAR Notebook

Matt Kenseth had a great night on Saturday!

By Brian Willwerth 

We are halfway through the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. The title is still up for grabs, although three drivers are starting to separate themselves from the pack.

One of them is Matt Kenseth, who drove his #17 car to victory lane Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was his first win of the playoffs, and third of 2011, (he also won at Texas and Dover back in the spring.) With the victory, he moved into third place, just seven points behind leader Carl Edwards. Kevin Harvick remains in second, five points behind Edwards.

On Saturday night, Kenseth passed Kyle Busch on a restart with 25 laps remaining, and never looked back.  Busch had been in control for much of the race. Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top five.

The other headline involves five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. His bid for another title took a major hit – literally. Late in the race, he got loose coming off Turn 2, spun around, and then his #48 car went slamming nose-first into the outside wall. He finished 34th on Saturday night, and is now eighth in the standings.

The other big on-track incident was also in Turn 2. Kahne, Jeff Gordon and David Ragan were three-wide. There was contact, and when it was all over, all three drivers were sitting idle along the inside wall. Gordon finished 21st, as his struggles in the Chase continue.

NEXT WEEK: Talladega.  Need I say more…

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