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Posted: Friday, August 22nd 2014 at 8:00am

NASCAR Preview: Night Riders - Kenseth, Kahne looking to end O-fer

By NASCAR Media
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Matt Kenseth hopes to repeat the scene from last year with another win in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced at Bristol Motor Speedway. / Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
BRISTOL, TN - Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne waged one of the memorable battles from the 2013 season.

For nearly 20 laps, two of NASCAR’s marquee talents ran side-by-side, inches apart, navigating Bristol’s high banks in a thrilling show of expertise and competitive desire.

Kenseth won that race, like so many others during the 2013 season. In all he won seven, more than any other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.

Kahne finished second, just short of a Bristol sweep. He won the springrace in convincing fashion, leading 109 laps.

Considering the state both are in this season, that seems way longer than 12 months ago. Both drivers are winless, neither have clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and time is running out.

Heading into the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway let’s take a deeper dive into both drivers’ predicaments.

Matt Kenseth: All things considered, it’s good to be Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon’s win at Michigan – his third of the season – guaranteed that there will be at least one winless driver in this year’s Chase. That spot belongs to the winless driver highest in points – which, currently, is Kenseth. Fifth in points, Kenseth holds a 30-point lead over Ryan Newman, the next highest ranked winless driver.

In other words, he’s pretty safe.

Still, momentum would be nice. Kenseth has finished 38th in two of the last three races, but heads to Bristol, one of his best race tracks. He has three wins at Bristol, which ties Las Vegas and Auto Club Speedway as his most prolific tracks. He has a Bristol driver rating of 102.7, one of nine tracks where he eclipses the 100 driver rating mark.

Kasey Kahne: Kahne’s seat is not nearly as comfortable as Kenseth’s. But it could be worse.

Kahne currently sits outside the Chase Grid in 17th – but only nine points behind 16th-place Greg Biffle. A win would immediately lock Kahne into the Chase. And it’s a scenario that entirely possible.

He has finished in the top 10 in each of the last four Bristol races and has led laps in three of the last four. Kahne has scored more points at Bristol in the last four races than any other driver.

Chase Clinch Update: All 12 drivers with wins have now clinched a spot in the Chase, assuming they at least attempt to qualify for the remaining three races in the regular season. If a winless driver wins this weekend, and is 97 or more points ahead of 31st place, he or she will also clinch a spot.

WDUN will have live PRN Racing coverage of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway beginning at 6:30 pm on 102.9 FM.

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Youthful Success Keeps Flowing

Look no further than the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the next wave of young talent. At Mid-Ohio on Saturday, Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Chris Buescher became the third rookie this season to win, joining Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon. This is the first time since 2005 that there have been multiple rookie winners.

The average age of the three winning NNS Sunoco Rookies this season is 20.3.

Following this weekend at Mid-Ohio, the bright lights turn to 21-year old Chris Buescher who hails from Prosper, Texas. The cousin of 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher, Chris became the 14th different winner in 22 series races this season. Though his Sunoco Rookie competitor Chase Elliott has set the bar high by leading the points and posting three wins, Buescher has certainly found his stride late in the season. He is currently ninth in the standings, 144 points out of the lead. He has posted one win, three top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 13.4 this season.

Buescher’s last weekend win also padded the stats for the most successful team in series history, giving Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 team its 91st victory. Buescher is the fourth driver to win in the No. 60 Ford; joining Mark Martin (39), Carl Edwards (38) and Greg Biffle (14).

Heading to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the Food City 300, Buescher is looking to better his finish of 16th from earlier season. Of its series leading 91 wins, the No. 60 team has only been to Victory Lane twice at Bristol with drivers Mark Martin (1996) and Carl Edwards (2007).

Dillon and Elliott both finished in the top 10 at Bristol earlier this season.

WDUN will have live PRN Racing coverage of Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway beginning at 7 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.

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