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Matt Kenseth Wins Overly Cautious Kansas Race

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 21 2012

Matt Kenseth burns up the remains of his tires after winning at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The high speeds that were recorded in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway were expected. The track was, after all, repaved to dead smoothness. In addition, the banking was kicked up an additional five degrees.

Wild racing was also expected as repaved tracks tend to contract the width of racing surfaces.

But nasty wild? Track-record 14-caution wild? So wild that the record for most cautions at a 2012 Cup race would also be broken?

Not so much. So said driver after driver late Sunday afternoon.

“Lot of wild stuff,” Matt Kenseth, who moved from 11th to ninth in points because of his victory at Kansas, said.

“Crazy,” said second-place Martin Truex Jr. of Michael Waltrip Racing, who crossed the finish line .495 seconds behind Roush Fenway Racing’s Kenseth.

“People impatient,” third-place Paul Menard said. “A lot of restarts.”

“I don’t even know how to explain it,” Penke Racing driver Brad Keselowski, who finished eighth but kept his seven-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff standings, said. “I’m ready to go home and have a couple of beers. It’s just been a long day and, you know, everybody has been asking all season long where the cautions have been, well, they flew to Kansas and they’ve been hanging out here because there was caution after caution and it seemed like every wreck that happened today happened right in front of me.”

Johnson finished ninth on a day he probably should not have finished on the lead lap. On lap 135 of the 267-lap race, Johnson spun. Without any help from others, yet. His car slammed backward into the wall in Turn 4. The impact compacted the rear of Johnson’s Chevrolet.

But when the car was pitted after the incident, Johnson’s crew went to work, hammering out the damaged sheet metal and covering the car with BearBond adhesive tape.

Johnson got some more breaks with timely cautions and finished in ninth place and still very much in the hunt for a sixth series championship.

“Definitely proud of this team and the fact that we never give up and continue to fight and try to get every point we can,” Johnson said. “All that said, I’m very proud but I was disappointed. I crashed the car. I spun out trying to get inside the No. 56 (Truex Jr.). He bobbled a little in front of me and I thought that was an opportunity to jump in the gas real hard and when I did, my car took off and I couldn’t catch it.”

To bad, too, he said, because, “I think we could have been in victory lane and stretched some points on these guys.”

Non-Chase driver Paul Menard of Richard Childress Racing finished third in the race.

He was followed by Chasers Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports and defending series champion Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing, who also was involved in the wrecking but hung in for a good finish.

Fifth in points and but 30 behind the leader, and seventh in points but 47 out of first, Kahne and Stewart, respectively, probably needed to do better to stay in contention as the season now has just four races left.

Clint Bowyer of Michael Waltrip Racing finished sixth to move three points closer to the leader. He will head to Martinsville Speedway’s short track next week fourth in points, 25 points back.

“Got to keep digging,” Bowyer said of his plan for the final four races.

That digging, he said, should be easier once away from the craziness that occurred at the Kansas track which is located about 90 miles away from his hometown of Emporia, Kan.

“It just wasn’t much fun,” Bowyer, one of the few who finished with a relatively clean car, said. “But it is what it is. I don’t know the hell was going on behind us. The kept wrecking. It seemed like every 20 laps we would have a caution. That wasn’t much fun.”

While most of the wrecks Sunday were of the “just hard racing” variety, there was one that was premeditated. It involved Danica Patrick.

Patrick and Landon Cassill were running in close quarter near the mid point of the race. But suddenly, Patrick moved in on Cassill’s rear bumper and sent him sideways. Patrick suffered the worse damage, though, as she slid to the bottom of the track and hooked around on the apron. That sent her car slamming head-on into the wall.

“I have just been really frustrated with the No. 83 (Cassill),” she said. “He slammed into me on the front straight for no other reason than his radio communication ‘She was in the way’. I’ve always played fair. If it’s one time, I can imagine frustration. But it’s been pretty consistent with him getting in to me. So at some point in time, I have to stand up for myself, or everybody’s going to do it. So, the bummer is that this is my Texas car. We were having a good run, we were making the car better. And, I’m out of the race and he’s not.”

Cassill probably got a good laugh out of that.

On his two-way radio, he had this to say about Patrick: “Rule No. 1 in stock car racing is learn how to wreck someone without wrecking yourself.”

At least the race did not boil down to fuel mileage.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

RACE RESULTS

1. (12) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 267, $389611.

2. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267, $231954.

3. (14) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 267, $177615.

4. (1) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 267, $156015.

5. (33) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 267, $184840.

6. (3) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 267, $146854.

7. (39) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 267, $124015.

8. (25) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 267, $144310.

9. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, $148651.

10. (19) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267, $147626.

11. (10) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267, $147991.

12. (18) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 267, $128088.

13. (9) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, $139471.

14. (17) Carl Edwards, Ford, 267, $140396.

15. (21) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, $129613.

16. (24) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 267, $126496.

17. (31) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 267, $121863.

18. (26) Landon Cassill, Toyota, 267, $121350.

19. (8) Joey Logano, Toyota, 267, $102305.

20. (37) David Ragan, Ford, 267, $111013.

21. (32) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, 267, $92630.

22. (42) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 267, $100205.

23. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 266, $105363.

24. (2) Mark Martin, Toyota, 266, $90505.

25. (29) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 265, $109738.

26. (15) Sam Hornish Jr.(i), Dodge, Accident, 234, $131030.

27. (11) Greg Biffle, Ford, 227, $97380.

28. (20) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 214, $127330.

29. (5) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 212, $124491.

30. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 188, $130463.

31. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 181, $131813.

32. (40) Danica Patrick(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 154, $84130.

33. (22) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, Accident, 140, $101752.

34. (35) Scott Speed, Ford, Electrical, 77, $83730.

35. (13) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 69, $91780.

36. (30) Mike Bliss(i), Toyota, Vibration, 47, $83305.

37. (28) Casey Mears, Ford, Accident, 29, $83080.

38. (43) Kelly Bires, Ford, Rear Gear, 28, $82857.

39. (41) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, Brakes, 25, $79325.

40. (36) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Rear Gear, 22, $79080.

41. (34) Reed Sorenson(i), Toyota, Overheating, 18, $78805.

42. (27) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Vibration, 11, $78635.

43. (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, Vibration, 7, $78907.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 115.086 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 28 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.495 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 14 for 66 laps.

Lead Changes: 16 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Kahne 0; M. Martin 1-6; A. Almirola 7-33; D. Gilliland 34; A. Almirola 35-73; T. Kvapil 74; J. Johnson 75-118; A. Almirola 119-121; C. Bowyer 122-123; J. Gordon 124; C. Bowyer 125-127; M. Kenseth 128-156; J. Gordon 157; M. Martin 158-211; P. Menard 212-217; K. Kahne 218; M. Kenseth 219-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): M. Kenseth 2 times for 78 laps; A. Almirola 3 times for 69 laps; M. Martin 2 times for 60 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 44 laps; P. Menard 1 time for 6 laps; C. Bowyer 2 times for 5 laps; J. Gordon 2 times for 2 laps; D. Gilliland 1 time for 1 lap; K. Kahne 1 time for 1 lap; T. Kvapil 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: B. Keselowski – 2,250; J. Johnson – 2,243; D. Hamlin – 2,230; C. Bowyer – 2,225; K. Kahne – 2,220; M. Truex Jr. – 2,207; T. Stewart – 2,203; J. Gordon – 2,199; M. Kenseth – 2,195; K. Harvick – 2,191; G. Biffle – 2,188; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 2,128.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 21 2012
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