Sunday, October 21, 2012

Kenseth Survives Wreckfest at Kansas

Kansas Speedway repaved before the Hollywood Casinos 400, and it turned out to be a great move.  The race was exciting, with many of the front-runners having problems.  Matt Kenseth pancaked the wall when Aric Almirola spun in front of him, but it didn't affect him that much; Kenseth was able to pull away on multiple restarts and win his third race of the season.

Kenseth celebrate his third win of the season (Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne won the pole and led Mark Martin, who qualified second for the second week in a row, to the green flag. Martin was able to get around Kahne coming out of Turn 2 to take the lead.  Clint Bowyer, who started third, didn't get a good start and dropped all the way back to eighth place by the end of lap one.  Aric Almirola caught Martin on lap five, and he took the lead on lap seven coming off Turn 2

On lap 32, Casey Mears blew a right front tire and pounded the outside wall to bring out the first caution of the day.  The leaders came down pit road, and Almirola won the race off pit road, followed by Kyle Busch.  Mark Martin came down in second place, but he came out of the pits in fourth. 

The race restarted on lap  37, and Almirola and Busch raced side-by-side through turns 1 and 2, before Busch got loose heading into Turn 3.  The second caution came out on lap 41 for Busch, who got out of the groove in Turn 4 and spun down the frontstretch.  Almirola led the field to the restart on lap 45, and he was able to jump down in front of Jimmie Johnson heading into Turn 1. 

Almirola was the leader when the caution came out on lap 71 for AJ Allmendinger, who wrecked between Turns 3 and 4.  The leaders made pit stops, and Jimmie Johnson was able to gain the lead coming off pit road.  Johnson led the field back to the green flag on lap 77, and he was able to get ahead of Almirola when he bobbled on the restart.  The caution came out on lap 83 for Jeff Burton, who got turned into the outside wall by Tony Stewart. 

Johnson led the field to the green flag on lap 87, and he was able to get ahead of Almirola heading into Turn 1.  Johnson pitted on lap 120 to start a round of green flag pit stops.  Almirola became the leader, but he blew a right front tire on lap 122 to bring out the caution.  The leaders came in, and Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road.  Bowyer led the field to the green flag on lap 128, but Kenseth was able to get the lead heading into Turn 1. 

Jimmie Johnson spun around and hit the outside wall in Turn 4 to bring out the caution on lap 136.  Matt Kenseth led the field back to the green flag on lap 142, but the caution came out for a spin by Bobby Labonte on lap 143.  Labonte backed into the outside wall after contact from David Gilliland.

Johnson takes his wrecked car to the pits (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
The race restarted on lap 147, and Matt Kenseth was able to pull ahead of Jeff Gordon to take the lead.  On lap 155, Landon Cassill and Danica Patrick got together, and they both spun out.  She over-corrected, and shot back into the outside wall.  Some of the leaders pitted under the caution, but the first four cars stayed out. 

Mark Martin was the leader and led the field back to the green flag on lap 163, and Martin was able to clear Denny Hamlin coming out of Turn 2.  The caution came out on lap 166 for a spun by Tony Stewart, who got loose coming off Turn 2.  The race restarted with 100 laps to go, and Martin was once again able to clear the field for the lead.  Bowyer jumped to the inside of Hamlin, while Kenseth went to the high side, shuffling Hamlin back to eighth.  Heading through Turn 3, Marcos Ambrose and Trevor Bayne made contacting, sending them both into the wall.

With 95 laps to go, Martin started above Almirola, and the two raced side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2.  Coming off Turn 2, Almirola got loose and spun down to the inside of the track, but the race continued on without a caution.  On lap 174, Biffle, who was running third, got loose and pounded the wall coming out of Turn 4, spinning into the grass to bring out another caution.  Under the caution, Kenseth pitted to fix damage he received when he hit the wall while Almirola spun.

 Martin led Bowyer to the green flag on lap 180, and he was able to clear him coming out of Turn 2.  One lap later, coming off Turn 4, Kyle Busch was racing Ryan Newman for seventh when he was spun and hit the outside wall.  Newman then turned into Sam Hornish Jr., and spun through the infield grass. 

Kyle Busch spins after contact with Ryan Newman (Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Martin led the field back to the green flag with 79 laps to go.  He was able to clear Bowyer coming out of Turn 2, and Bowyer began to race side-by-side with Paul Menard, before Menard was able to get second place the next lap.  With 59 laps to go, Hamlin came in to make a green flag pit stop.  The fuel window for the race was 45-50 laps, but Hamlin was going to try and push it.

Martin hit pit road with 55 laps to go for tires and fuel, handing the lead over to Menard.  While Martin was on pit road, Almirola hit the outside wall when he blew a right front tire.  His car caught fire, but it was extinguished by the time he got out of the car.  The field came in to make pit stops, and Mark Martin was the lucky dog.  Denny Hamlin, who pitted at the same time as Martin, was the first car a lap down.

The race restarted with 45 laps to go, and Kenseth led the field to the green flag.  Kenseth was able to get ahead of Tony Stewart heading into Turn 1, while Paul Menard shot around Stewart for second.  With 41 laps to go, Kasey Kahne got around Menard for second, and set his sights on Kenseth. 

Mark Martin leads the field (Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
On lap 230, Mark Martin began to slow down the frontstretch.  He radioed in to his crew and said that he believed that he had lost a cylinder.  On lap 234, Hornish hit the outside wall after blowing a right front tire to bring out another caution.  Under the caution, most of the cars in the back of the pack came in to make pit stops, including Denny Hamlin, who may have been short on fuel.  The No. 55 team went under the hood of Mark Martin's car to try and find out why his car was losing power. 

Kenseth led the field to the green flag on lap 239, and he was able to clear Menard heading into Turn 1.  Martin Truex Jr. was able to get around Menard for second place coming out of Turn 2.  With ten laps to go, Kurt Busch had a right front tire go down, and he hit the wall, but he was able to get around to the pits without a caution.  Kenseth was able to continue to pull away from Truex to win his third race of the season.

Martin Truex Jr. finished second, and was followed by Paul Menard.  Kasey Kahne had a fast car all day, and finished fourth.  Tony Stewart recovered from his spin and finished fifth.  Clint Bowyer finished sixth.  Regan Smith, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished seventh.  Brad Keselowski finished eighth, and was followed by Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.  Kevin Harvick finished 11th.  Denny Hamlin finished 13th after an uneventful day where he lost points to Keselowski and Johnson.  Mark Martin finished 24th, one lap down, after something in his engine broke.  Greg Biffle finished 40 laps down in 27th.  Danica Patrick finished 32nd after she wrecked. 

Brad Keselowski is still the leader of the Sprint Cup Points, by a mere seven points over Jimmie Johnson.  Denny Hamlin is now 20 points out of first, on the brink of being an unrealistic championship contender.  Here are the unofficial points standings, courtesy of
The Nationwide Series race on Saturday was very exciting, and it left everyone excited for the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday.  The race proved to be one of the most exciting of the year, and Matt Kenseth was able to make it through the race with only a little incident and win the race.  Next week, the Sprint Cup Series should have another exciting race when they roll into Martinsville Speedway for the TUMS Fast Relief 500.  The race can be seen at 1 p.m. next Sunday, only on ESPN.

John Harrelson/Getty Images

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