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Kenseth Sprints To NNS Win

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2013

Matt Kenseth, with James Buescher pushing, takes the white flag at Daytona on Friday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)


Matt Kenseth robbed Nationwide Series fans of a dramatic ending when he cruised away from the field after a green/white/checkered restart in Friday night’s Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

James Buescher, who gave Kenseth a push to the checkered flag in an event marked by tandem racing, finished second.

Elliott Sadler, Kurt Busch (running the Cole Trickle “Days of Thunder” paint scheme) and polesitter Austin Dillon rounded out the top five. After dominating the majority of the event, Sam Hornish Jr. finished a disappointing seventh.

Sadler won the $100,000 Nationwide Dash 4 Cash bonus as the highest finisher among four eligible drivers.

The victory was the 26th of Kenseth’s career in the Nationwide Series and his first since May 2011 at Charlotte.

He had the lead when the final caution came out to set up the final restart. He chose the outside position, which put him in front of Buescher.

“I mean, really, I felt like the outside lane was better,” Kenseth said. “James (Buescher) could push me so fast. He and the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 12 (Sam Hornish Jr.) when they were together all night – no matter who I was pushing or who was pushing me – we couldn’t run with those two. But, with the 34 (Buescher) pushing me we could – we had enough speed. So, it was important to keep him with me. He did a really good job of getting us up to the lead. He put us in a position to try to win. So, wanted to make sure we stuck with him. He did a great job — a really, really good job pushing there. It’s fun to be back in the Nationwide Series. It’s fun to come back here and race again. It’s been a while and it’s always special to win at Daytona.”

Logano spent the first three quarters of the race pushing Hornish and seemed to have no difficulty with overheating, despite the sustained shoving. As a consequence, Hornish had led 56 laps by the time the field came to pit road on Lap 74 under the second caution of the night.

But Logano was first off pit road, and after the restart on Lap 78, Hornish was left without a partner and fell back through the field. Shortly thereafter, Logano dropped back to help his teammate, and together they began a steady climb toward the front.

On Lap 83, the Hornish-Logano tandem regained the top spot, only to lose it a lap later to Kenseth, who got a strong sustained push from Buescher. Hornish and Kenseth were battling side-by-side for the lead through Turn 2 when Mike Wallace stalled on the backstretch to cause the third caution of the race.

Three laps after a restart on Lap 94, a wild six-car wreck in Turn 4 – ignited by contact mid-pack between the cars of Travis Pastrana and Cole Whitt – stopped the race for track clean-up and set up the decisive green-white-checkered finish.

“Our Ford Mustangs showed the way for most of the show,” Hornish, who is in contention for the series championship, said. “We got separated on one of the restarts and then by the time we got back up there to try and make our move, the yellow came out and we were all kind of jacked up as far as where we were on the lineup. Nobody really knew where anybody was supposed to be, and it was just difficult to get hooked back up. But once we got hooked up, I was like, ‘great,’ and then I looked and I saw where the leaders were at and they were gone. I was surprised that Joey and I got hooked back up, but we really showed what these Roush Yates power plants could do and how good our Mustangs were, but the big thing for us is we got out of here with a car still intact, which was very, very fast, so that’s great for coming back here the next time.

“We had a teammate that worked with us all night and took care of us and helped us out with the points stuff, and we gained a couple more, so that’s all you can hope to do on days like this. We wanted so much more, but some days it’s not meant to be, so I’m real happy with our PPG Ford Mustang. It’s a little bit frustrating to lead that many laps and not be able to at least get a top five out of it, but for what happened to us at some of these other plate races, where you get back just a little bit and have a problem, you’ve got to be thankful to maximize the points that we did get.”

The victory for Kenseth was big for his crew chief, Matt Lucas.

“This is my first win as a Nationwide Series crew chief,” Lucas said. “I’ve got quite a few wins in other positions on the team, but this is my first as a crew chief so it’s obviously really special. I’m excited to do it with Matt (Kenseth) at Daytona. To do it at a place with the history here is really, really special – so I’m excited.”

Sadler, not happy about not winning, was very happy with Dash money.

“I’ll tell you the last lap we got the restart and then the 12 (Sam Hornish Jr.) got to me,” Sadler said, “the 18 (Matt Kenseth) and the 34 (James Buescher) were gone. The 12 (Hornish Jr.) got to me and we were tandem and we were clear and we’re coming to the white and I said, ‘Hell, we can win this race. He’s pushing me.’ Then all of a sudden he leaves me, so I’m by myself as we cross the white. And, I understand because Sam and I are racing each other for the championship and I understand he’s probably looking for Joey (Logano) and things like that, and it’s the last lap. I know he doesn’t want to push me to the win.

“That’s just racing. And, I look up and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m kind of by myself on the bottom.’ And, I look and I see old Cole Trickle (Kurt Busch) coming. Cole (Kurt Busch) and I had helped each other earlier in the race and he could’ve gone around me because I was running slower by myself and he decided to hit me coming off turn two down the back straightaway and he did a great job. He pushed me straight and we were able to stay connected because we were three-wide and make our way back to the start-finish line. Even though it wasn’t that big crash that sometimes happens here – the last lap and being three- wide and all of that stuff going on changing partners and changing dancing partners and dragging the brake and trying to get connected and all of that stuff going on and trying to win the ‘Dash for Cash’ – it was a lot of stuff going on at one time.”

NASCAR Nationwide Series Race – Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola

Daytona International Speedway

1. (19) Matt Kenseth(i), Toyota, 101, $83290.

2. (17) James Buescher(i), Chevrolet, 101, $58475.

3. (9) Elliott Sadler, Toyota, 101, $46600.

4. (7) Kurt Busch(i), Chevrolet, 101, $33075.

5. (1) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 101, $38800.

6. (13) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 101, $30850.

7. (5) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 101, $28710.

8. (11) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 101, $27670.

9. (14) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 101, $20550.

10. (8) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 101, $27100.

11. (15) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 101, $19325.

12. (6) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 101, $24775.

13. (18) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 101, $24250.

14. (21) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 101, $23725.

15. (16) Michael Annett, Ford, 101, $24075.

16. (23) Cole Whitt, Toyota, 101, $23650.

17. (4) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 101, $23325.

18. (27) Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 101, $23000.

19. (30) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 101, $22875.

20. (12) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 101, $23250.

21. (20) Nelson Piquet Jr. #, Chevrolet, 101, $22775.

22. (36) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 101, $22475.

23. (39) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 101, $22325.

24. (24) Eric McClure, Toyota, 101, $22200.

25. (25) Jamie Dick, Chevrolet, 101, $16550.

26. (26) Kevin Swindell #, Ford, 101, $15950.

27. (3) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 101, $21800.

28. (10) Brad Sweet, Chevrolet, 101, $21625.

29. (22) Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, 101, $15500.

30. (38) Jeff Green, Toyota, 99, $21675.

31. (29) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 99, $21250.

32. (28) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 96, $21130.

33. (34) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, Accident, 96, $21010.

34. (2) Travis Pastrana, Ford, Accident, 95, $21390.

35. (32) Jason White, Toyota, Accident, 95, $20764.

36. (33) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 90, $13700.

37. (35) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, Engine, 87, $19665.

38. (40) Dexter Stacey #, Ford, Axle, 76, $19611.

39. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 70, $19495.

40. (31) Morgan Shepherd, Dodge, Rear Gear, 21, $13430.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 145.767 mph.

Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 43 Mins, 56 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.189 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 4 for 16 laps.

Lead Changes: 31 among 14 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Dillon 0; T. Pastrana 1; B. Scott 2; A. Dillon 3; Kurt Busch(i) 4; A. Dillon 5-8; S. Hornish Jr. 9-22; M. Kenseth(i) 23; S. Hornish Jr. 24-31; R. Smith 32; S. Hornish Jr. 33-36; B. Vickers 37-38; S. Hornish Jr. 39-42; B. Vickers 43; S. Hornish Jr. 44-52; E. Sadler 53-54; S. Hornish Jr. 55-60; J. Allgaier 61; S. Hornish Jr. 62-64; J. Buescher(i) 65; Kurt Busch(i) 66; S. Hornish Jr. 67-74; T. Bayne 75; J. Logano(i) 76-77; B. Vickers 78; J. Logano(i) 79; K. Larson # 80-81; M. Kenseth(i) 82; S. Hornish Jr. 83; M. Kenseth(i) 84-89; S. Hornish Jr. 90-93; M. Kenseth(i) 94-101.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): S. Hornish Jr. 10 times for 61 laps; M. Kenseth(i) 4 times for 16 laps; A. Dillon 2 times for 5 laps; B. Vickers 3 times for 4 laps; J. Logano(i) 2 times for 3 laps; Kurt Busch(i) 2 times for 2 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 2 laps; K. Larson # 1 time for 2 laps; J. Buescher(i) 1 time for 1 lap; T. Bayne 1 time for 1 lap; T. Pastrana 1 time for 1 lap; R. Smith 1 time for 1 lap; B. Scott 1 time for 1 lap; J. Allgaier 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: R. Smith – 558; S. Hornish Jr. – 552; E. Sadler – 544; J. Allgaier – 543; A. Dillon – 541; K. Larson # – 516; B. Vickers – 505; P. Kligerman – 501; B. Scott – 494; T. Bayne – 488.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2013
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