BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano hope their recent success at Bristol Motor Speedway helps them reach victory lane for the first time this season.
They will have prime starting spots Sunday after Kenseth qualified second and Logano third Friday for the 500-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on the 0.533-mile track.
Both drivers have two wins over the past five races at Bristol. Another win could land Logano or Kenseth a spot in the Chase for the championship, and both drivers believe a breakthrough is possible.
“It’s been a good track for us, probably my best track,” said Logano, who has won the past two August events at Bristol but struggled in the spring. “We’ve been really good in the fall races, but it seems like something happens every year in the spring race; hopefully, we can get through that. It’s certainly not because we haven’t been fast.”
Standings-wise, both drivers like their position and performance.
Logano stands 48 points behind leader and defending series champion Kyle Busch in fifth place with three top-fives and four top-10s in seven starts. The Team Penske driver also has a pole at Martinsville, where his No. 22 Ford finished 11th.
Kenseth is 88 points back in 12th with a season-best seventh place at Phoenix. He has led at least 10 laps in five races but hasn’t had the finishes to show for it.
“I’ve been accused at times of being a glass-half-empty guy,” Kenseth said Friday, “but I feel like it’s way more than half full. Our finishes haven’t reflected how we’ve ran. … There’s definitely a lot of positives.”
Bristol, on the other hand, has been pretty good for Kenseth.
Kenseth has four wins, 13 top-fives and 20 top-10s in 32 career starts at Bristol. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 47 laps en route to victory here last April and 149 in his August 2013 victory. His No. 20 Toyota Camry ran third and 13th in two other races with a combined 227 laps led.
“Bristol’s been a good track,” Kenseth said, “but when everything’s clicking and we’re at our best, I feel like we can be pretty competitive just about anywhere.”
Their challenge is slowing the momentum of Busch, who has swept the past two race weekends at Martinsville and Texas. Kenseth’s JGR teammate is the current active leader in Bristol wins with five along with brother Kurt, though he hasn’t won here since 2012.
Logano’s focus right now is about handling his own business before concerning himself with others.
“We’re looking for anywhere we think we can get a win,” he said while watching his crew prepare his Xfinity Series Ford Mustang. “We had a solid run last week. Anytime you come to a race track like this, your confidence is a little bit higher. The momentum is building back up slowly, I can feel the wins are right around the corner. We’re not in panic mode.”
Patience will be needed with Bristol’s tight confines that have been famous for igniting short tempers on the banking and pit road.
Logano and Kenseth believe that trait has served them as well as their cars, though they admit it hasn’t always been easy with so many cars fighting for the same small space at high speeds.
“It’s real easy to get off track,” Logano said. “You’ve got to keep the big picture in mind.”
Starting near the front should help both drivers maintain perspective for this weekend as they aim to maintain their form here.
Kenseth posted a lap of 127.419 mph, second only to teammate Carl Edwards (127.997). Logano was next at 127.191.