After last week’s Auto Club 500 from Auto Club Speedway, Matt Kenseth seemed invincible. He was coming off two straight wins to start the season, and seemed poised for a strong run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track he’s won at before. No one has ever won the first three races of a season, and Kenseth became the first person to win the first two since Jeff Gordon did it in 1997.
But three laps into the Shelby 427, Kenseth was on pit road with engine trouble, his team trying desparately to diagnose and fix the problem. By lap 6, his potentially historical day ended in a plume of white smoke from the rear of his USG Sheetrock Ford Fusion. He finished dead last, and dropped from first to third in points.
Kenseth’s Sunday performance just goes to show that no matter how invincible a driver seems at a given time, he can be knocked right back into mortality by factors beyond his control.
No one knows this better, perhaps, than Kyle Busch. Last season, Busch was the hottest driver in the sport, winning more than 20 races in NASCAR’s top three series. But, in the Chase, he stumbled, bumbled, and fumbled his way to an 10th place finish.
In a sport where talent and ability can take a back seat to quality of equipment and a little bit of luck, we’ve all learned that no one is invincible.