In contrast to the success Johnson and Jeff Gordon (seven wins) have had at Martinsville, Kenseth is winless in 27 starts, with only three top-five finishes. In the spring race, he finished 14th after leading the second most laps (96).
"We had a really good run going in the spring," Kenseth said. "We got off a little bit in the middle of the race and then we pitted at the end and lost some spots, but I thought we were going to finish sixth or seventh if we wouldn't have pitted. I think we led more laps in the spring than I led my whole career [at Martinsville] up to that point."
Kenseth doesn't see Martinsville as a wild-card track like Talladega, where anything can happen.
"I think Martinsville is one of those real predictable ones honestly - a lot actually like Dover," he said.
Kyle Busch also is winless at Martinsville in 17 starts (eight top-fives). Pocono and Indianapolis are the only other tracks where Busch is winless in any of NASCAR's top three series.
Busch is third in Chase points, 26 behind Johnson. He has been very consistent, with two runner-up finishes and three fifth-places. He badly needs a win or two to vault ahead of Johnson and Kenseth.
Meanwhile, first-time Chaser Joey Logano has settled near the bottom in 12th place. Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon are absorbing everything they can from the experience.
"I definitely will learn a lot this year," Logano said earlier this week. "Even though we're kind of out of it right now as far as the championship, we're not out of getting a top-five finishing position in the points.
"As far as my first Chase, Todd's first Chase, the first Chase the [No.] 22 car has been in for quite a few years, it is kind of a learning deal for all of us, but, at the same time, we're still trying to make the most of it."
One lesson Logano, 23, has learned is that one bad race in the Chase can be disastrous points-wise. He finished 37th in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
"I know it's really hard to make up points when you have a bad race," he said, "because these guys running for the championship that are first, second, third and fourth right now, they don't have any bad races."
On his way to Indy?
Sage Karam, from Nazareth, Pa., is celebrating his first Firestone Indy Lights series title. The big question now for Karam, 18, is whether he will move up to the IndyCar series next year.
"The chances of me racing full time [in IndyCar] next year are pretty good," Karam said yesterday from Nazareth. "I'd like to give Schmidt Peterson Motorsports the first shot."
Karam won the Indy Lights championship driving for Schmidt Peterson.
He has a $1 million scholarship from the Mazda Road to Indy program, plus the financial backing of Michael Fux, a Cuban-born entrepreneur-philanthropist based in New Jersey.
Mention Nazareth and racing, and there's an automatic Andretti connection. Karam grew up with his family living near the Andrettis. When Michael Andretti was still racing, Karam's father, Jody, was his personal trainer. Jody is the wrestling coach at Bethlehem's Liberty High.
Sage won a USF2000 racing series title driving for Michael Andretti. He also drove 2 years for Andretti in the Star Mazda series. Sage said he switched to Schmidt Peterson for financial reasons.
"I don't think Michael was too happy about it, but it was strictly a financial thing," Sage said. "I can't thank them enough for having the faith in me, getting my career started."
With the Indy Lights series over for the year, Karam has moved back to Nazareth, where he hopes to wrestle for Nazareth High this season. The 5-11, 150-pounder has also played football for Nazareth.
"The students and teachers have been really supportive of me," he said. "At first, they didn't understand what I was doing. They thought I was just a kid trying to be a professional in a sport."
Now, they know he might be racing next year in the Indianapolis 500 and at Pocono Raceway along with Michael's son Marco. The Nazareth racing tradition continues.
This week's race
Goody's Fast Relief 500
Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, Va.
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN/WNPV (1440-AM)
Course: .526-mile oval
Distance: 500 laps/263 miles
Forecast: partly cloudy, mid-60s
Last year's winner: Jimmie Johnson
Last year's pole: Johnson, 97.598 mph
Track qualifying record: Johnson, 98.400 mph (April 2013)
Track facts: The consecutive wins by non-Chasers Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray in this year's last two races are the first time non-Chasers have won back to back since Tony Stewart did it in 2006 at Atlanta and Phoenix...Last fall at Martinsville, Johnson led eight times for 193 laps, including the last 15, to win. Clint Bowyer led the second-most laps (154) and finished fifth. Kyle Busch was runner-up ... Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s third place at Talladega was his career best in the Cup series...Elliott Sadler is driving the No. 55 Toyota in the year's final four races as Brian Vickers has treatment for a blood clot in his right leg.
1. Jimmie Johnson 2,254
2. Matt Kenseth -4
3. Kyle Busch -26
4. Kevin Harvick -26
5. Jeff Gordon -34
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -52
7. Greg Biffle -53
8. Clint Bowyer -57
9. Kurt Busch -61
10. Carl Edwards -68
11. Ryan Newman -72
12. Joey Logano -75
13. Kasey Kahne -101
Note: Kyle Busch is third because he has more wins than Harvick
Wins: Matt Kenseth, 7; Jimmie Johnson, 5; Kyle Busch, 4 each; Kevin Harvick, 3; Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, 2 each; David Ragan, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMuray, 1 each.
Up next: AAA Texas 500, Nov. 3, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas, 3 p.m.; TV: ESPN; last year's winner: Jimmie Johnson.