Kenseth wins the crashfest at Kansas
Posted on Oct. 21st, 2012
After the Nationwide race setting a record 11 cautions yesterday in the Kansas Lottery 300, the race still came down to fuel mileage with Paul Menard running out of gas on the restart of the green white checker, then Kyle Busch also running out of fuel coming out of turn 4 on the last lap. So as the Sprint cup cars took the track Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400, not only was the unknown of how much wider the groove was going to be during the race on the newly repaved track, but fuel mileage had to also in the back of the minds of the crew chiefs.
In the Chase for the Cup, All eyes were on the top five drivers in the point’s standings. Pole setter Kasey Kahne stood in fifth 35 points behind points leader Brad Keselowski who struggled in qualifying only to manage the 25th fastest lap. Jimmie Johnson who stands in second, only 7 points back of Keselowski, would start seventh. Denny Hamblin, 15 back of the top spot would start 9th as Emporia’s Clint Bowyer would start in the third spot coming off a win last week in Charlotte.
As the field took the green flag, it was Aric Almirola taking the lead form his 5th starting spot after Kahne got off to a bad start and bunched the field up on the green flag. The first caution came out for debris when Casey Mears brushed the wall on lap with the field coming into the pits. Five laps later Kyle Busch spins coming out of turn four which was a problem in the Nationwide race Saturday.
The race almost reached green flag stops when A.J. Almendinger hit the wall hard getting into turn 3 when a right front tire blew. That would bring the field in for pit stops again. At the drop of the green flag, Jimmie Johnson would be the first out of the pits with Travis Kvapil out second after taking two tires and Aric Almirola in third.
After being penalized for leaving pit road with equipment, Tony Stewart caused the next caution after Jeff Burton checked up out of turn four and Stewart ran into the back of Burton causing him to lose control and hit the wall. Again it was 5 time champion Jimmie Johnson taking the lead and showing what they had done many times before in chase races.
The race went another stretch where green flag pits stop were scheduled. Jimmie Johnson was the first of the leaders to pit under green when right after exiting pit road, debris on the back stretch was the cause of another caution as Almirola was entering pit road. Johnson would find himself 23rd as Clint Bowyer would stay on the track and make his pit stop under caution and have the lead at the restart. But Matt Kenseth who was one of the fastest cars on the track before the caution would take the lead from Bowyer and start to pull away.
The turn four bug would come to bite of the big hitters as Jimmie Johnson would lose the backend and back his car into the wall doing damage to his car and put the points chase in jeopardy as would have to pit many times to fix the damage. As the points set as the time of the caution, Brad Keselowski had the lead with Clint Bowyer climbing to second 19 points back and Johnson falling to third 25 back of the points lead. Another caution on the restart would allow Johnson’s crew to continue to work on his damaged car.
Owner Rick Hendrick said of Johnson’s crew to keep him on the lead lap, “Never in my over 30 years of racing have I seen a team do surgery like that and keep Jimmie on the lead lap. It just speaks to the ability of the 48 team.”
Danica Patrick became the cause of the next caution when she didn’t like the move Landon Cassill made moving up on her going into turn one. She returned by tapping Cassill in the left rear fender causing him to spin. Only problem with that is Patrick spun herself with Cassill not receiving any damage and Patrick spinning, hitting the wall and not only ending her day, but ruining the car they had planned on taking to Texas Motor Speedway in a few weeks.
“Rule number one is if you’re going to wreck someone, make sure you don’t wreck yourself either.” Cassill was heard over radio communication.
The carnage continued with the cautions. On the first lap of a restart after two previous cautions, Ryan Newman got into the back of Kyle Busch coming out of turn four and Busch hitting the wall while Newman drove through the infield grass doing damage to the front of his car and ending the day of both cars.
“It’s been a rough year for us.” Busch said. “I’m glad he wrecked to and he’ll get another one before the end of the year.”
Since the past five yellow flags, Mark Martin had quietly worked his way up to the front spot. He had been saving gas in hopes to going green flag the rest of the way but the odds weren’t on his side with the next caution setting a new track record cautions at 14.
With 58 laps to go, Denny Hamblin pits under green after running 71 laps on a tank of gas. Martin then pits with 56 laps left setting up a repeat of last week’s race at Charlotte. As soon as that happens, Aric Almirola brings out that caution as he blows a tire as soon as he gets back onto the gas entering turn four hitting wall and catching on fire but climbed out of his car. The entire field would come into the pits for tires and fuel and throw the fuel mileage game out the window.
After Sam Hornish Jr. hits the wall bring out yet another caution, Matt Kenseth took the lead with Martin Truex Jr in second on the restart with 27 laps left with nine chase drivers in the top 10 positions.
After a light brush of the wall earlier in the race, Matt Kenseth would take control of the final 27 laps of the race and take his second win of the chase and the 24th of his career.
Car owner Jack Roush of both winning cars this weekend felt very lucky getting out of town with two wins after record setting cautions in both races.
“I had a little déjà vu both days. Ricky yesterday and was putting us in the fuel window I thought most people wouldn’t be in. We’re normally on the other end of that situation. But it worked out for us.” Roush said. “I didn’t realize until Matt was back on the racetrack that he had made contact. For us to win with two of them in a row makes me feel very forturate.
As for the Chase for the Cup, there was little difference with no positions changing in the top five with Brad Keselowski still leading the points with Jimmie Johnson seven points back. Denny Hamblin remains in third 20 back of the lead and Clint Bowyer in fourth and Kasey Kahne in fifth 25 and 30 points back respectively.