Kenseth wins but Keselowski still tops
KANSAS CITY, Kan.—The fast, smooth new surface at Kansas Speedway had the potential to wreak havoc on the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The recent repave cluttered yesterday’s race with a record 14 cautions—a season high in the Sprint Cup Series—and contributed to issues that affected at least four title contenders.
Kenseth still managed to drive it to his second victory in three races while Brad Keselowski dodged accident after accident to hang onto his seven-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the standings with four races left in the “Chase.”
“I was thinking, ‘Man, this has to be entertaining for everybody to watch,’” said Kenseth.
“There was a lot of wild stuff happening.”
That was an understatement yesterday, when the longest green-flag run was 35 laps early in the race.
Some of the cautions were caused by tire problems, others were for single-car spins, including “Chase” drivers Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Greg Biffle.
And Danica Patrick wrecked herself when she intentionally wrecked Landon Cassill.
Biffle’s spin ended his day with a hard crash into the wall.
“I lost it, man. It got away from me off of four and we wrecked it,” noted Biffle, who dropped five spots in the “Chase” standings to 11th.
“I had no indication, no little wiggle, no sideways,” he added. “It just got away from me and it killed our day.”
Johnson, who led 44 laps early, was far luckier.
He had pitted from the lead and was back in traffic when a caution came out, and he spun by himself shortly after the restart.
He, too, hit the wall on his spin, but crew chief Chad Knaus called him to pit road to get a look at the car instead of conceding laps by going to the garage for repairs.
Knaus then methodically dictated team orders as Johnson stopped on pit road at least a half-dozen times for repairs over two caution periods.
Team owner Rick Hendrick praised the team efforts during a stop in the media centre during the race.
“I have never, in my 30 years of racing, seen anyone perform that kind of surgery and not lose a lap,” he said.
In the end, Johnson salvaged a ninth-place finish, which was good enough to keep the “Chase” margin unchanged with Keselowski, who finished a spot ahead in eighth.
He came into the race with a seven-point lead and left with a seven-point lead as the series heads to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia this coming weekend.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second while Paul Menard was third.
Kasey Kahne finished fourth, followed by defending champ Stewart, who overcame both a spin during the race and a pit road penalty for leaving his stall with equipment still attached to his car.