2011 RESULTS 3 wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s
2012 OUTLOOK Continued improvement on intermediate tracks may pay off for the unusually optimistic Kenseth.
OVER his 13-year Cup career Kenseth has been one of NASCAR's most consistent drivers. Since 2004 he's qualified for every Chase but one ('09), and over that stretch he has more top 10s (143) than every driver except Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. While quietly finishing fourth in the standings last season, Kenseth showed dramatic improvement in qualifying (his average starting spot was a career-best 14.2) and on intermediate tracks. Though he's a pessimist by nature, Kenseth believes he has the equipment and crew to contend for his second title. "We had a chance to win a few more races [last year] than we actually did," he says. "As a team we're very close to where we want to be."