If you tried to pick a NASCAR all-star team, nobody would think you were crazy if you wanted to start it with Matt Kenseth.If it were baseball, he’d be the starting pitcher.Basketball, the leading vote-getter.Football, he might not go. (Just kidding, NFL, haha).But seriously, folks, as NASCAR gets ready to run its all-star race on Saturday night in Charlotte, there is no driver more deserving of all-star status than the driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.He’s won three times this year, more than any other driver. He’s led 781 laps, more than any other driver. He’s also picked up two poles and won the second-most money.Yep, all-star.But Kenseth has not piled up wins in NASCAR's all-star race.He has one, and teammate Kyle Busch, who has also been burning up the track this year for JGR, does not have any.So this weekend might be their time to shine for Joe Gibbs.But neither one has to have it, except to the extent they want it in their own mind, to validate their year. Especially so in the case of Kenseth, who already has won a Sprint Cup championship.He can leave the track Saturday night knowing his switch from Roush Fenway to Joe Gibbs last winter looks like perhaps the best driver move in history.He is busy building a championship season. There’s not an all-star that wouldn’t take that.The all-starsTwenty-two drivers will compete in Sprint Cup’s all-star race. Here is how they are selected:First, anyone who won in 2012 or has in 2013. Then, the past 10 all-star winners and the past 10 Cup champions. After that, the top two in the Sprint Showdown (a qualifier) and then the winner of the fan vote.The 19 drivers already in: Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, David Ragan and Tony Stewart.Kurt Busch and Martin got in by being all-star winners in the past 10 years.
All-star parity: NASCAR is boasting depth and quality in its all-star results: 12 different winners in the last 14 races, six by Cup champions.
Tenth place: Kevin Harvick moved into a tie with teammate Paul Menard for 10th in the point standings. But officially, it’s Harvick’s because of his win at Richmond.
Dark trend: Darlington drew a 3.5 overnight, the second-lowest rating of the season. The three smallest ratings of the season have come for Saturday night races.
Camping World Truck
Back in action: After almost a month off, the series returns with a race Friday night. Matt Crafton leads the series in points.
Keselowski entered: Brad Keselowski is entered in the trucks race. He finished second last year. He’s hoping to be the 24th driver to win a Cup, Nationwide and Truck series race.
Streaking Gray: Shane Gray has reached three consecutive finals in Pro Stock. That’s got him up to sixth in the standings.
Rebounding Gray: Johnny Gray won the Funny Car event last week at Atlanta, his second win of the season. He’s up to third in points despite failing to qualify in Charlotte four weeks ago.
0 All-Star victories for Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, who have five victories and 1,521 laps led between them this year.
They said it
“I know I’m not going to please everybody every day. There are going to be some days when some people will think I’m a jerk, and there will be some days where I probably will be a jerk. I just hope there’s more good days than jerk days.”
Derrick Walker, former mechanic and team owner, on being named competition director for IndyCar