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article imageNASCAR: Sprint Cup title up for grabs, 'Chase' down to five races

By John Duarte     Oct 13, 2013 in Sports
Concord - The competition is tight and everyone is gearing up for a race to the finish in the hunt for the NASCAR top-level title. The 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is down to its final five races.
“This is a tough deal. It's hard to run up front every week. It's hard to win races. It's hard to do all that,” said Matt Kenseth, who finished third at the Bank of America 500 and holds a slim four-point lead in the Sprint Cup standings over Jimmie Johnson. “Tonight was a big positive for us. Certainly glad we're still leading.”
With only five races remaining in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup, there is no clear picture as to which driver is the favourite to take the title at this point. The top five competitors in the Sprint Cup standings are all within 40 points of each other, and only 81 points separate leader Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, who finished second this weekend and sits 13th in the overall standings. Kenseth was happy overall with his car and his performance.
“I felt like we had in between a 2nd and a 4th or 5th place car at worst,” he said. “We finished there or a little better so I'd call that a successful night. I was happy where we ran, happy where we finished.”
Kenseth got to off to a blazing start in the 2013 Chase, winning the first two races. The always consistent Johnson has proven a worthy challenger and Kenseth said he had luck on this side on Saturday and managed to keep ahead of Johnson. He added, “I felt like tonight the 48 (Johnson) probably had us beat.”
Johnson had a great night. He was out in front for 130 laps and had a legitimate change to win the race.
“We led some laps tonight and had a good car,” Johnson said of his race. “We'll take fourth. It's not the end of the world but every point matters right now.
“I'm not sure what happened in the points, but I know it's awfully tight up there,” he added.
As for Kahne, he hopes being runner-up this weekend provides much-needed momentum.
“We always have ran pretty good at this track,” Kahne said about Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It's a confidence, kind of always gives us confidence when we leave here. Hopefully we can run pretty strong the rest of the year. I don't want to finish last in points.”
Keselowski doesn't mind that his first Sprint Cup win of 2013 didn't come until Saturday night, at the Bank of America 500 in Concord, North Carolina, as NASCAR nation prepares for the final five races in the season.
“This is a bit of a travelling circus 38 weeks a year. Whenever you can win, it's a great night,” said Keselowski. “All season long, we've had the speed. We've had what we need to be a championship team. We just haven't put them all together. All the pieces haven't come together on the nights that count, and they for the most part did tonight.”
The defending Sprint Cup champion, who is not one of the drivers in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup and, thus, won't retain his title, didn't want to spend much time pondering what could have been. Keselowski said his focus on winning as many of the five races remaining in the season as possible and looking to put together a solid year in 2014.
“Obviously if we would have executed better, I do feel like we'd be in the Chase. But we can't look back, we've got to look forward,” he said. “Spending a lot of time complaining about missing out on opportunities early in the season isn't going to do us any good.  We've got to look forward and we've got to find ways to win as the sport continues to evolve.”
The NASCAR season is down to five races. The Camping World RV Sales 500 runs at Talladega Superspeedway, in Alabama, on Oct. 20.
More about Nascar, chase for the Sprint cup, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski
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