Those who are one of the best in NASCAR always expect to have a great season. No matter how long you been in the sport or how many championships you’ve won, you know for a fact you’re among the best. For every veteran driver however, you’ll always have that one bad year or two. Following up a great season is hard, but it is even harder when you have a stroke of bad luck that goes along with it.
That’s been the case for Martin Truex Jr and Matt Kenseth. Just when things get going in the right direction, something happens late. Bad luck has been the norm in the Sprint Cup Series all season long, and both of these drivers can’t seem to fix that. Whether it’s for a top five or a win, one unfortunate event destroys it in an instant, no longer leaving them any chances to win.
Both have had strong cars being aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing, just unable to provide the expected results from 2015. Kenseth was the first to have his start this season, but actually carried over from the Logano incident last season at Martinsville. Only three top 10’s, two DNF’s and that embarrassing moment in Atlanta has sadly made headlines for him. Kenseth has yet to see the top 10 in points, or barely stay in the top 16 to be eligible for the Chase.
While his counterparts in JGR are soaking in their success, Kenseth is at the bottom of the list. His tangling with Joey Logano in Talladega looked to restart that rivalry, but Kenseth soon dismissed it and with good reason. Though he has managed to score two top 10’s in the last three races, Kenseth isn’t out of the woods quite yet. Leading 350 laps this season shows he’s still a contender, but he needs to turn those into at least one win.
Truex and Furniture Row Racing joined forces with Toyota and JGR, and has since looked stronger. Following up on a career year hasn’t been an easy one however. Truex’s bad luck you can say started when he missed winning this year’s Daytona 500to Denny Hamlin by .011 seconds. Strong contender right? Of course that’s possibly true, but it never turned out that way after 11 races.
While he was able to lead the most laps in Texas and Kansas, one key situation puts him out of winning. One thing to note is that both of these happened at a Saturday night race. Truex went from leading in Texas to bottoming out on the last pit stop and losing it after he led 141 laps. The race was one by none other than Kyle Busch, who is once again on a hot streak after last year’s injuries and winning the championship, and Truex finishing sixth.
Truex had won the pole at Kansas, which was the sixth of his career and the first in almost four years. He led for 172 laps, the most he’s led at any track all season, but a broken bolt inside his left rear led him to go at least a lap down and never recover. This finish would be worse as he took 14th, as the winner was, you guessed it Kyle Busch. But yet Truex still manages to stay in the top 10 in points after those incidents.
Who is having the worst luck appears to be debatable. Both have potentially strong cars, but can’t make anything happen due to unfortunate events. I imagine the next question will be, who will turn their luck around? That might not be answered for awhile.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law