SPARTA, KY (WFXG) - Securing a spot in NASCAR's post season Chase is the goal of every driver that straps into a race car on Sunday afternoon. However, to do it before the July 4th holiday is a total blessing. Matt Kenseth did just that with a surprise win in Kentucky last Sunday.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been on a hot streak since he first stepped into the No. 20 car at the beginning of the season. Now with four wins under his belt, he can take a few chances to win races as he did Sunday afternoon.
With Jimmie Johnson dominating the Quaker State 400, Kenseth knew that he would have to do something different on a late caution to pull off the win. So, as all other contender took tires on pit road, Kenseth only took fuel to gain the lead position which turned out to be the winning move.
"You know, we talked about it after the third victory; that we could be aggressive on our calls," said winning Crew Chief Jason Ratcliff on his winning decision. "We've been aggressive on our calls all year but, today was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of that and Matt hung on and drove his heart out and brought us home with a victory."
The win was the fourth for Kenseth and his team which all but guarantees him a spot in the Championship Chase as long as he finishes in the top 20 in points by Richmond.
"Hopefully we'll be running how we're running, or even get better going into the Chase," said Kenseth on his post season chances. "Hopefully we can give them a run for their money; that's what the plan is."
Taking victory was a surprise to the veteran driver but he knew that his new team was up to the challenge.
"I don't know how he does it but Jason worked his magic and after three or four adjustments, I thought we had at least a second to a fifth place car," continued the race winner praising his team. "That last call is what gave us a shot to win and put us a chance to restart as the leader, which is always important to get out front."
As Kenseth stole victory away from the five time champion, Jimmie Johnson, he knows that the No. 48 team is still a formidable foe in the days to come.
"We just got to keep working all the time and keep trying to get better," observed Kenseth on his team's goals going into the Chase. "Just because you're great today doesn't mean you'll be great a month from now. You know, you are always trying to improve."
If Kenseth and his team improves any more, it might be a sleeper once the Chase starts. However, he knows that things can change in a hurry in those last 10 races. Tony Stewart's surprise title is an excellent example of that. So, look for the No. 20 team to keep their nose to the grindstone from here on out.