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Matt Kenseth laments how good race turned bad; lucky to finish ninth

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It was a bittersweet day for Matt Kenseth in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The good part was he maintained his second-place position in the standings, just eight points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson.

But that was about the only thing good that came out of Sunday’s race, said Kenseth, who started from the pole, led a race-high 116 of 267 laps but finished what he considered a disappointing ninth.

“It was really bad,” Kenseth said of his overall race. “We had a good car and not sure how I did it, but I hit the wall getting into turn one and then in the middle of the race I started losing some handle a little bit when the track changed.

“I lost track of where I was and hit the wall. It was an uphill battle from there and then at the end I thought we still had a shot at a top-five out of it but (Alex Bowman) just hung a left as hard as he could and knocked our right fender off and then I was just dead in the water.”

With the way he dominated the first half of the race, it appeared this would be Kenseth’s race to win. But things didn’t work out that way.

Trying to put together a complete race is “never easy,” Kenseth said. “We got off a little bit. We led early and as the track rubbered up we got off on our handle a little bit and lost a few spots to (Chase Elliott) and (Kevin Harvick). Some of those guys had some real good short-run speed.

“Then I got into the wall right after I lost a couple spots and that really put us behind. But, I thought we were going to come back from it and I’m not sure what (Bowman) was doing. He came right across the track and cleaned the right front fender off. We were lucky to finish, so thankful we still got ninth out of it after that.”

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NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson involved in minor fender bender while leaving Fontana

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Kyle Larson‘s spectacular weekend at Auto Club Speedway — winning both Saturday’s Xfinity Series race and Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup event — left him feeling good.

But shortly upon exiting the facility, Larson and several others were involved in a fender-bender right outside the Speedway. Larson was a passenger, not the driver.

No one was injured, Larson tweeted.

But somehow, isn’t that strange fate?

NASCAR America: Kyle Larson’s Fontana win shows continued maturing as a driver

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Kyle Larson finally broke his streak of three straight runner-up finishes with his win in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, the crew discussed his win as well as his maturation as a driver.