Trackside Duo: November 10, 2013

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

It seems as the season just started yesterday, and now only two races remain in 2013. Jimmie Johnson now has a slight edge in the championship standings after a commanding Texas performance. Matt Kenseth’s goal is to chase Five-Time down. Can he do it? That question will be answered over the next two weeks — starting on Sunday at Phoenix, where tempers will flare and punches may be thrown.

Whether Johnson or Kenseth will take home the title continues to be the most popular question in NASCAR. This week, the Trackside Duo answers that and weighs in on potential factors that may affect the title hunt in its final weeks.

1. Jimmie Johnson finds himself in the exact same position as he was a year ago: he leads second place in the standings by seven points with two races remaining. Johnson wasn’t able to hold off Brad Keselowski last year, allowing Keselowski to take the title. Matt Kenseth could end up being this season’s Keselowski. Do you see Kenseth being able to repeat what Keselowski did?

Alanis: Keselowski and Johnson both admit that Johnson’s tire issues at Phoenix last year — a huge aid to Keselowski’s title win — were caused by Johnson trying to outrun Keselowski’s faster car. If Kenseth has the faster car and Johnson lets the individual races overshadow the points standings like he did last year, Kenseth might have an easier time than he expected capturing the title. However, a five-time champion isn’t likely to repeat the same mistakes he made in the past.

Jason: It will all depend on whether or not Johnson makes a mistake. Brad Keselowski benefited from two issues Johnson faced last season in order to take the title. Kenseth has been strong, but not strong enough to beat Johnson. Kenseth can dominate these last two races, but if Johnson stays right up with him, it won’t matter. Kenseth is awaiting a Johnson mistake and if it does come, he’ll take advantage of it just like Keselowski did.

2. Kyle Busch has yet to win one of the final ten races while being a Chase contender. This Chase has been one of Busch’s strongest, but no victory has come yet. With two races remaining, Busch has a chance to break his playoff winless streak. Can Busch get to victory lane at Phoenix or Homestead-Miami?

Alanis: I thought Busch’s best chance to capture a Chase win would be at Texas, sweeping the two Cup races there for the 2013 season. But, that didn’t happen, and with the title fight between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth coming down to the wire, it seems as if Busch will have to try again next year for a Chase win.

Jason: Busch has had a fairly good Chase, but I don’t see a win coming out of the No. 18 team. Phoenix and Homestead-Miami haven’t been tracks where he excels at, so somehow figuring both tracks out in the next two weeks doesn’t seem likely. Busch’s focus over the next two races should be to gain as much knowledge as possible in case he finds himself in the midst of a championship hunt at this time next year or in the future.

3. How do your championship standings look after Texas?

Alanis:

Original Predictions:

1.) Matt Kenseth

2.) Jimmie Johnson

3.) Carl Edwards

4.) Kevin Harvick

5.) Kyle Busch

6.) Kasey Kahne

7.) Clint Bowyer

8.) Joey Logano

9.) Jeff Gordon

10.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.) Kurt Busch

12.) Greg Biffle

13.) Ryan Newman

Predictions following Texas:

1.) Matt Kenseth

2.) Jimmie Johnson

3.) Kevin Harvick

4.) Kyle Busch

5.) Clint Bowyer

6.) Jeff Gordon

7.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

8.) Greg Biffle

9.) Kurt Busch

10.)  Joey Logano

11.) Ryan Newman

12.) Carl Edwards

13.) Kasey Kahne

Jason:

Original Predictions:

1.) Jimmie Johnson

2.) Kyle Busch

3.) Kasey Kahne

4.) Matt Kenseth

5.) Carl Edwards

6.) Joey Logano

7.) Clint Bowyer

8.) Kevin Harvick

9.) Ryan Newman

10.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11.) Kurt Busch

12.) Jeff Gordon

13.) Greg Biffle

Predictions following Texas:

1.) Jimmie Johnson

2.) Matt Kenseth

3.) Kevin Harvick

4.) Kyle Busch

5.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.

6.) Jeff Gordon

7.) Clint Bowyer

8.) Greg Biffle

9.) Joey Logano

10.) Carl Edwards

11.) Kurt Busch

12.) Ryan Newman

13.) Kasey Kahne

Follow Alanis on twitter @alanisnking and follow Jason @NASCARJason

trackside duo

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