Jimmie Johnson claimed his first victory of the season at Charlotte. Johnson, the six-time and defending series champion, became the 10th different winner this year.
Under the new Chase format, race winners are almost guaranteed of making the playoffs in NASCAR's premier series. The field has expanded to 16 drivers/teams, starting this year. The top-15 drivers with the most wins during the 26-race regular season will become eligible for the playoffs, provided they have finished in the top-30 in points. The 16th and final position will go to the driver who is the highest in points without a victory.
Kenseth had a series-season-high seven wins in 2013. He finished second in the Chase.
"I know you more than likely need a win to get into the Chase, but you do the best you can every week to try to win, no matter what the point standings are or no matter how that works out," Kenseth said. "I don't think there's any more or less urgency than anything else. It's not like you can just say, 'Man, we really need a win,' and you just go and get one. It doesn't really work like that.
"So you're trying to win every week and just go out and keep doing the best you can to try to put your best races together every week, and hopefully you'll get one sooner or later."
This weekend, the series is at Dover International Speedway for race 13 in the regular season. Kenseth has won here twice (spring races in 2006 and'11). He also made his series debut at this one-mile, concrete-surfaced track in September 1998.
"I really like the track," Kenseth said. "It's one of those tracks that's really fast. You can attack it. It's one of the tracks that's pretty hard to get around fast by yourself, and then you throw all of them cars out there and it makes it a lot harder. It's always been one of my favorites."
Other drivers who were in the Chase last year but have yet to win a race this season include: Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne.
Tony Stewart won last year's spring race at Dover. Stewart, a three-time series champion, missed the final 15 races of the '13 season, including the fall event at Dover, after suffering a broken right leg during an accident in an Aug. 5 sprint car race in Oskaloosa, Iowa. On Monday, he drove a sprint car for the first time, in a private test, since his accident.
One year ago at Dover, Stewart snapped a 30-race winless streak after passing Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead with just three laps remaining. During a late- race caution for an accident involving Denny Hamlin, Montoya beat Jimmie Johnson out of the pits to take the lead. When the race resumed with 19 laps to go, Johnson quickly pulled ahead of Montoya for the top spot, but NASCAR ruled that Johnson jumped the restart and therefore penalized him with a pass through on pit road.
Stewart was never a factor until late in the race. He led just the final three laps.
"We just didn't have the car to win the race, but we had great pit strategy at the end," Stewart recalled of his victory at Dover last year. "We had a car that was solid, but we just never could get the track position to get in clean air. We changed only two tires on that last stop to get up front. The car felt a lot better up there, and it didn't seem like the guys who took four tires had a huge advantage taking off. When we noticed we were catching the leaders, we kind of got going on the bottom and made up even more time. It was just a big win for us and really gave us some momentum for the next few races."
Last September, Johnson won at Dover for a record eighth time. He had been in a tie with Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most victories at this track. Johnson comes to Dover with a lot of momentum after snapping his 13-race winless streak this past Sunday.
"Just looking to expand on a great performance last weekend," Johnson said. "We are coming to my favorite racetrack, and by the stats, probably our best track as well."
Forty-three teams are on the entry list for Sunday's FedEx 400.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, June 1. Race: FedEx 400. Site: Dover International Speedway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 1 p.m. ET. Laps: 400. Miles: 400. 2013 Winner: Tony Stewart. Television: FOX. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.