Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing are in need of a change in the storylines surrounding both heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Last week, Kenseth revealed the news that he wouldn’t be back in the No. 20 car for JGR next season and that his future is uncertain in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
JGR can’t seem to escape their winless streak as it continues to dominate headlines heading into the second half of the season.
Many would assume at least one JGR competitor would have won through the first 18 races considering they have one of the strongest lineups in the sport and that Toyota has shown tremendous speed with Furniture Row Racing. However, week after week, the team has continued to show promise and fall short by the finish.
Now 2017 marks the second-longest winless drought the team has faced to begin a season in the last 20 years. They last went this deep into the year without a win in 1997 when the then one-car stable only won the season finale at Atlanta with Bobby Labonte.
New Hampshire presents an opportunity for both Kenseth and his teammates to perform well and change the narrative.
The organization has been among the best at the 1.058-mile over the past few years, winning four of the last seven races with Kenseth earning three victories and becoming one of the best in the sport at New Hampshire in the process.
The difference maker in his success? Joining Joe Gibbs Racing. After scoring five top-five’s in his first 26 starts with Roush Fenway Racing, he’s earned five top-five’s in last eight events.
The 45-year-old nearly swept both races last year after winning in July and finishing second in September.
The win was added insurance for his playoff run as it marked his second victory of the season. This season tells a different story as he currently sits just seven points above the Chase cutoff line with a hungry Joey Logano one position below him, and a win seems critical to securing a playoff spot.
While there will be seven more opportunities to win before Chicagoland and he could still get in based on points, visiting the winner’s circle would alleviate some pressure for the No. 20 team.
JGR is off to a promising start this weekend as all four cars qualified in the top-15 with Kenseth leading the way in third-place.
The focus is on the future for Kenseth and JGR, and a victory would significantly help both parties moving forward as they look to assert themselves as top championship contenders in the second half of the season.
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