Monday, September 16, 2013

Kenseth Wins Wet First Chase Race

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Matt Kenseth took the lead on a late restart and held off the field to win the Geico 400 on Sunday night.
Kenseth had to endure two rain delays on his way to victory on Sunday.  The first delayed the start of the race by over an hour.  The second made many question whether the race would be moved to Monday.  But Kenseth was able to win after enduring a delay that lasted for more than five hours.

John Harrelson/Getty Images
Kenseth said he knew the conditions would play a factor after the race restarted, but that his team made the right changes to get him to the lead.

"I thought with the conditions we were going to be a little off tonight," Kenseth told ESPN.  "They did a great job with this car, and I did everything I needed to do."

The race was also Kenseth's first with crew chief Jason Ratcliffe.  Kenseth said he has enjoyed racing for Joe Gibbs Racing this year.

"It's been a great fit for me and this team this year," said Kenseth.

With four 1.5 mile tracks left on the schedule, Kenseth is the early favorite to win the championship this year.  But Kenseth said he wouldn't focus too far down the road.

"We're just going to take it one week at a time," said Kenseth.  "I felt really good coming here after everything we learned in testing."  

Joey Logano started on the pole alongside his Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski.  Logano was able to clear Keselowski heading into Turn 1 to take the lead.  Logano led until the competition caution came out on lap 30.  Under the caution, the leaders made their first pit stops, and Jimmie Johnson won the race off pit road after taking only two tires.

The race restarted on lap 37, and Johnson took the lead heading into Turn 1.  Johnson pitted on lap 75 to start a round of green-flag pit stops.  A slow stop cost Johnson time on pit road, and Matt Kenseth had the lead when stops had cycled around.  

On lap 109, just 26 laps away from reaching halfway and making the race official, the second caution of the day came out for rain.  The cars were brought down pit road, and the race was red-flagged.

The race was delayed for over five hours, but eventually the cars re-fired at around 10 p.m. EST.  When the race went back green on lap 117, Kenseth led the field into Turn 1.

On lap 122, the third caution of the night came out for Juan Pablo Montoya, who blew a tire and scattered debris across the track.  

Kenseth led the field back to the green flag on lap 126.  He led until the caution came back out for a spin by Justin Allgaier on lap 148.  Jeff Gordon won the race off pit road after the leaders made their stops under the caution.

Gordon led the field back to green on lap 153, but the race quickly went back under caution when Cole Whitt blew an engine.

Gordon led the field on the next restart on lap 159.  On lap 169, the caution came out for debris.  Kyle Busch beat everyone off pit road when the leaders pitted and he took the lead.

Greg Biffle restarted first on lap 173 after he didn't pit, but Busch quickly took the lead on new tires.  On lap 177, Joey Logano, after complaining of engine issue for about 30 laps, brought out the caution when his engine expired.

Busch led the field back to green on lap 182, and he led until he had to make a green-flag pit stop on lap 220.  After stops had cycled around, Gordon was the leader after he got on a different pit cycle a little earlier in the race.

On lap 227, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s engine blew up heading into Turn 1, and he spun through the grass to bring out another caution.  Gordon pitted under the caution, and that allowed Busch to retake the lead, and he led when the race restarted on lap 231.  The final caution of the night came out on lap 240, when Allgaier spun by himself in the corner.

The race restarted on lap 245, and Busch led the field back to the line.  Going into Turn 1, Kenseth was able to get a good run, thanks to a push by Kevin Harvick, to get around Busch for the lead, and he was able to hold him off to win the race.

Here are the unofficial results:

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

The first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in the books.  Next week, the Chase continues at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The Sylvania 300 can be seen next Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, only on ESPN.

No comments:

Post a Comment