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Win or lose championship, Kenseth playing with house money in 1st season with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Matt Kenseth looks out from his car before qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Friday afternoon, Nov. 8, 2013, at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic. David Wallace) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT NO SALESThe Associated Press

Mark Martin was chatting with Matt Kenseth some two months into the season about Kenseth's remarkable start with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kenseth had won two of the first eight races, and Martin believed Kenseth could have won all eight.

It was the sort of success nobody thought possible.

But it's been a dream year for Kenseth, who has won a career-best seven races after jumping to JGR following 16 years driving for Jack Roush.

Now, 10 years after winning the only Cup championship of his career, Kenseth is in the thick of another title race.

He goes into the penultimate race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway trailing Jimmie Johnson by seven points in the standings.