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Kenseth makes it two for two in dream Chase start

Matt Kenseth came into the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as top seed. Two weeks in and he's in danger of becoming unstoppable in the battle for this year's championship title.
Matt Kenseth had already defied expectations - other people's, and even his own - by claiming five wins during the regular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. That was more than enough to put him through to the all-important Chase that decided the championship title in November, but he was under no illusion that this was where the hard work would really start.

Just a fortnight into the Chase, and he's actually making it look easy: two wins out of two Chase events, the dream start. It literally couldn't get any better for him. Fans watching the events unfold at the end of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway might have been forgiven if they were watching a replay of the previous week's race at Chicagoland, as the same two Joe Gibbs Racing team mates - Kenseth, with Kyle Busch in hot pursuit - once again raced away from the field to claim the honours.

For Kenseth the victory was especially sweet, coming as it did on his 500th race outing in the Cup series. And it had been particularly unexpected, since the one-mile New Hampshire oval is far from being one of Kenseth's favourite. In fact he's never won here before.

"I didn't even know there was a victory lane here," he joked afterwards. "This is probably one of my worst places ... For me to win at New Hampshire, first of all, is more than a stretch and more than a dream," he added, brimming with the emotion of the moment that forced tears to his eyes.

Kenseth credited his team with supplying him with the perfect car, but his crew chief Jason Ratcliff wasn't having any of it.

"He doesn't take enough credit," said Ratcliff. "You don't just come out here and win on any given Sunday. This guy has done an incredible job. It's been an incredible season for us."

"The #20 just had a lot more than us this week for some reason," Busch said of his victorious teammate as he finished in the runners-up pot for a second week in succession. "We're not real sure why. Sometimes you just get those magic cars. Hopefully there are a couple for us left this year."

It's certainly been an amazing maiden season for Kenseth with JGR, which he joined at the start of 2013 after leaving his long-term home at Roush Fenway Racing over the winter. Many at the time questioned whether it was a wise move for the 41-year-old from Wisconsin, but it's safe to say that absolutely no one is asking that question anymore.

With Kenseth pulling back-to-back wins and Busch only inches away, the imperative for the rest of the 11 drivers in the 2013 Chase was to make sure they didn't give up too much ground in the meantime. That meant finishing near the front themselves and not making any mistakes that could see them slump to the back of the field with possible terminal consequences to their title ambitions. With only five of the 43 cars at New Hampshire retiring, there was a lot of scope for disaster this week and not everyone emerged from Loudon unscathed.




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Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, in involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
The #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, driven by Kasey Kahne is towed back to the garage after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman drives the #39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet past Josh Wise, driver of the #35 ThePeteStore.com Ford, after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Bobby Labonte, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Toyota, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Home Depot / Husky Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2013 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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