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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)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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