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NASCAR- Offseason capsules: Kenseth, Bowyer

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NASCAR- Offseason capsules: Kenseth, Bowyer

Postby nasis » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:04 pm


Matt Kenseth
2007 season statistics (Cup, Busch)
Wins: 4 (2/2)
Best Finish: 1st (California-1, Homestead)/ 1st (California-1, Texas-1)
Top-fives, top-10s, DNFs: 13, 22, 4 (36 starts)/ 15, 18, 4 (24 starts)

2007 Recap
The easiest way to characterize Kenseth's Cup effort in 2007 was poor starts followed by top-10 finishes. After his win at California Speedway, hopes were high for a standout season. Unfortunately, Kenseth's team quickly found themselves behind the eight ball with their CoT program – a problem that took much of the season to correct. Despite an average finish of 3rd in the Chase, it was too late to offset an average finish of 27th in the first five races of the playoff. Kenseth's Busch program was much better, as the Wisconsin native not only scored two wins, but two poles and an average finish of 10th.

2008 Outlook

What's next: Long-time Kenseth friend and crew chief Robbie Reiser steps into a managerial role at Roush Fenway Racing, leaving Kenseth to adjust to new crew chief Chip Bolin. Although these two have worked together during the first five races of 2007 (while Reiser was serving a suspension), it may still take time for them to gel. However, expect Kenseth to be back in the Chase once again – anything short of that is unimaginable.

Best case scenario: Kenseth and Bolin find common ground early in the season and instead of having to fight his way through the field for the first part of every race, Kenseth is instead battling with the race leaders. Ford teams will be hamstrung with an underpowered engine this season, but Kenseth will nonetheless win a handful of races.

Likely scenario: Kenseth is forced to take what the competition gives him as the front of the field every weekend is filled with Hendrick, RCR, Ganassi, Gibbs and his own teammates' cars.

Beware: With the aforementioned underpowered engine, could this be a lost season for Ford teams, including Kenseth?

Clint Bowyer

2007 season statistics (Cup/Busch/Craftsman Trucks)
Wins: 1/2/0
Best Finish: 1st (Loudon-2)/ 1st (Phoenix-1, Richmond-1)/ 5th (Atlanta)
Top-fives, top-10s, DNFs: 5, 17, 0 (36 starts)/ 13, 19, 1 (22 starts)/ 1, 1, 2 (4 starts)

2007 Recap
Ask Clint Bowyer about his rise to NASCAR superstardom and he'll tell you that his 2007 season was no fairy tale. It was the culmination of Bowyer's years of experience meeting a talented and driven crew chief in Gil Martin. Their partnership produced the kind of year that took the former dirt racer from being an also-ran to potential champion. After winning the first race of the Chase, Bowyer remained a threat to win the title for much of the home stretch. Despite a limited Busch schedule, nearly all of his starts in that series resulted in top-10 finishes.

2008 Outlook

What's next: Despite a stellar season, Bowyer still needs to prove to himself and others that 2007 was no fluke. He will, with ease. That kind of drive will certainly make him a contender once again for the Chase.

Best case scenario: Bowyer and Martin win early, setting the tone for the rest of the season while solidifying Bowyer's reputation as a winner and a potential future champion.

Likely scenario: The competition continues to get tougher and tighter at the front of the pack in the Sprint Cup series. Though he'll benefit from a strong package from RCR, Bowyer could find top-10 finishes even more difficult to acquire.

Beware: Bowyer needs to stay focused, remember that just a few years ago he was running short tracks in Missouri and not let himself be swayed by his press.

Veteran motorsports writer Bob Margolis is Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR reporter. Send Bob a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

By Bob Margolis, Yahoo! Sports
February 4, 2008
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