For 300 laps at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday it had looked to be a very productive day at the office for both Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman, who had been running in the top ten for much of the race and looked set to benefit from the misfortune of some of the other drivers still in contention for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

Kenseth had started from pole position but didn't seem to have the pace to match others at the front such as Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano or Kevin Harvick. Each time the Joe Gibbs Racing crew managed to boost him up several positions with their speedy pit work, Kenseth would soon start to slowly fall back down the running order.

Finally Kenseth's luck on pit road deserted him, and a slow pit stop on lap 253 resulting from lugnut issues put him all the way down to 18th position, right in the thick of the pack. "The way my car drove, I was kind of afraid of how it would be in traffic," he admitted.

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"We were okay when we were up front and had track position, but we had a problem in the pits and lost our track position," he said later. "We got most of our track position back, stayed out on tyres and just couldn't get by Kurt [Busch]."

Kenseth were able to take advantage of the late onset of multiple cautions to get back into the the top ten, where Newman had been running all along in another demonstration of the unshowy consistency that has been the hallmark of his Chase campaign in 2014.

Unfortunately all that good work was undone when both the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet picked up tyre rubs in jostling during a lap 317 restart following a spin for Kasey Kahne. Rather than risk having a tyre blow out, both Kenseth and Newman were forced to take an extra unwanted visit to pit road.

They were fortunate that the race had quickly gone back under yellow for a second accident involving Kahne, which meant that they could come down pit road under a caution, but with no one else following them in it meant a major loss of track position: Kenseth dropped to 26th place and Newman restarted in 21st.

"We got caught up in a restart deal that was three-four wide which did some damage, and we could just never overcome it," Kenseth sighed. "Got to the back again having to get tyres [but] at the end of the race I couldn't pass cars that got lapped earlier in the race."

Kenseth barely made any progress on the remaining laps and crossed the line in 25th place. Newman had a better car under him and was able to recover six positions by the time he was shown the chequered flag, which saw him finish in 15th.

"We did not get the finish we deserved, but it is what it is," sighed Newman, who hasn't finished outside the top ten since New Hampshire in September. "We raced in the top five all day.

"We got hit hard and it caused a tyre rub. Timing worked out for us and we were able to rally back," he added. "I have to thank the pit crew today, they were on their game. It was a solid team effort for us and I look forward to Phoenix."

Despite the setback on the track, Newman is nonetheless still in a strong position in the championship points standings. He's just two points back from co-leaders Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, and ten points clear of Jeff Gordon in fourth place. Even so, he's acutely aware that the points situation is now so close that no one can feel remotely confident about transferring to the four-man winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway still in contention for the 2014 title.

"We have a shot at advancing to the final Championship Round and that's all this Richard Childress Racing team can ask for," he said.

Kenseth meanwhile is only one point behind Gordon in fifth place in the standings despite his poor finish at Texas, meaning it's far from over for him too.

"Obviously today was a disaster as far as where we finished" he said. "So it was a poor performance on the scoreboard. {but] just the same approach going to Phoenix - just go there and try to do the best job we can."

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