Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kenseth Cruises to Victory at Kansas

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Earlier in the season, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne had a hard race for the win at Las Vegas.  In that race, Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne to win his first race of the season.  At Kansas, Kenseth started on the pole and dominated the race all day.  But at the end of the day, he had to hold off another hard charge from Kahne in the final laps.  Once again, Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne to take his second victory of the year.

Kenseth celebrates at Kansas (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kenseth won the pole for the STP Gas Booster 400, and he led the field to the green flag.  Kenseth was able to get ahead of Carl Edwards for the lead after electing to start on the outside line.  On lap 5, Kyle Busch spun coming out of Turn 2 to bring out the first caution.

Kenseth was able to take the lead when the race restarted on lap 9.  As the field was coming to the green, Brad Keselowski was on pit road with a fuel pick-up issue.  Keselowski was able to get off pit road right before the field took the green flag.

Kurt Busch brought his car down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop after complaining about a vibration in the right front.  Busch's team realized that he had a loose wheel from the beginning of the race.  

Busch needed the race to cycle through green-flag pit stops so that he could get his lap back, but on lap 38, Dave Blaney blew a right-front tire to bring out the second caution of the day.

Kenseth brought the field down pit road under the caution, and he was able to win the race off pit road to stay in the lead.  

Kenseth was able pull ahead of Mark Martin when the race restarted on lap 44.  Martin only took two tires under the caution, and he quickly backed up through the field.  He finally settled back in 11th.

On lap 72, the caution came out for debris.  Kenseth once again won the race off pit road after leading everyone down to make another round of pit stops.  

The green flag came back out on lap 77, and Kenseth was able to take the lead going into Turn 1.  Kenseth led the race until the caution on lap 86, when Elliot Sadler got loose and spun up into the outside wall.  Under the caution, most of the leaders stayed out.

The race restarted on lap 91, and the field fanned out 4-wide for the lead, but Kenseth was able to beat them all off Turn 2 to keep the lead.  

The caution came out on lap 104 for a big crash between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.  Busch got loose in Turn 3 and spun in the corner.  Busch spun down the track, and his car was slammed into by Logano who had gone low to try and avoid the wreck.  

Busch takes his wrecked car to the garage (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
After an extended cleanup, the pits were finally opened and Kenseth brought the field down pit road.  Kenseth won the race off pit road, but four cars stayed out under the caution.

Martin Truex Jr. got a push from Keselowski to take the lead on the restart.  Mark Martin restarted in third, and he almost spun Jamie McMurray when McMurray went down to try and block Martin.  McMurray ended up back at the end of the field, and Martin fell all the way to 15th.

On lap 146, McMurray, Keselowski, and Martin made green-flag pit stops.  Truex gave up the lead on lap 147 to make his pit stop.  They didn't pit under the last caution, so they had to pit before everyone else did.
Truex's pit stop handed the lead over to Jimmie Johnson.  Kenseth started fighting with Johnson for the lead, but Kenseth pitted on lap 156 to make his green-flag pit stop, and Johnson pitted on lap 157 for four tires and fuel.  After stops had cycled around, Truex was leading Johnson once again.

On lap 173, Brian Vickers spun coming off Turn 2.  The field came down pit road, and Johnson was able to win the race off pit road.

Carl Edwards stayed out under the caution, and he was the leader when the race restarted on lap 178.  Edwards had to hold off a hard charge from teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the restart, but he was able to lead until the caution came out again on lap 181.  Marcos Ambrose got loose coming out of Turn 2, and he spun.  Sam Hornish Jr. made contact with Ambrose while he was sideways, and it caused Hornish to get into Casey Mears.

The race restarted on lap 186, and Edwards was able to grab the lead again.  On lap 190, Stenhouse and Kenseth both passed Edwards for first and second.  

With 50 laps to go, amid green-flag pit stops, the caution came out for debris that flew off of Keselowski's car.  Most of the leaders came down pit road, and Kenseth was able to beat Truex off pit road. 
The race restarted on lap 224, and Kenseth was able to use the high side to get ahead of Truex heading into Turn 1.  With about 15 laps to go, Kasey Kahne started closing on Kenseth, and it seemed that the race was destined to be a repeat of Las Vegas.  At Vegas, Kenseth beat Kahne after outrunning him over the final laps.  

Kenseth began running into some lapped traffic, and that allowed Kahne to get to Kenseth's back bumper.  Kahne closed with two laps to go, but Kenseth was able to hold him off to win his second race of the season.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Aric Almirola
9. Mark Martin
10. Paul Menard
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
12. Kevin Harvick
13. Jeff Gordon
14. Ryan Newman
15. Kurt Busch
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
17. Carl Edwards
18. Jeff Burton
19. Greg Biffle
20. Marcos Ambrose
21. Tony Stewart
22. Regan Smith
23. David Gilliland
24. Bobby Labonte
25. Danica Patrick
26. Josh Wise
27. Juan Pablo Montoya
28. David Reutimann
29. Landon Cassill
30. David Ragan
31. Brian Vickers
32. David Stremme
33. Timmy Hill
34. Casey Mears
35. J.J. Yeley
36. Travis Kvapil
37. Sam Hornish Jr.
38. Kyle Busch
39. Joey Logano
40. Elliot Sadler
41. Mike Bliss
42. Michael McDowell
43. Dave Blaney

Matt Kenseth took the same car to Kansas that he won with at Las Vegas.  He once again had a strong run, and he was able to lead 163 of 267 laps on his way to his 26th career victory.  He looks to take his momentum to Richmond next Saturday night.  The race may also be the return of Denny Hamlin, who hopes to return to the No. 11 in his home state of Virginia.  The Toyota Owners 400 can be seen Saturday at 7:30 p.m., only on FOX.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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