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Kenseth Gets First Victory Of Season In Bristol

| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 20 2015
Matt Kenseth ended a long dry spell on a wet day in Tennessee. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Matt Kenseth ended a long dry spell on a wet day in Tennessee. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

RacinToday.com

Matt Kenseth ended a long dry spell on a set day as survived a series of rain delays, wrecks and extra laps to earn his first Sprint Cup victory since 2013 on Saturday night when he won at Bristol Motor Speedway.

sprint-logo-08The victory for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver came when he finished .287 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson at the .533-mile, high-banked track.

The victory was Kenseth’s fourth at Bristol, his most at any track, and the 32nd of his career. Kenseth broke a 51-race winless streak dating to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire in September 2013. The victory all but locks up Kenseth’s spot in this year’s Chase.

“It means a lot,” Kenseth said. “I have a great race team. Last year was tough and not winning again this year so far has been tough. We’ve been putting ourselves in position. Really need to thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all these guys – our pit stops have been great. I haven’t been doing as great and the cars haven’t been as good, but these guys have been really doing it.”

Johnson’s second-place finish came despite being involved in a couple of wrecks. Johnson first sustained damage when Kurt Busch’s car twitched underneath him in Turn 3 and sent Johnson’s Chevrolet spinning.

“The first half of the race or first third of the race I was behind the 24 (Gordon),” Johnson said, “and we just worked our way up through the field and things went pretty smoothly. I had a very fast race car and felt like we were going to have a strong night. And then one of the restarts midway through the race, the 41 (Busch)—I don’t know what happened—but he lost control, got into me.

“I went into the outside wall in Turn 3, and a caution came out. We had a fair amount of damage to the right rear quarter panel. I didn’t think I hit that hard, but after I got out of the race car and saw the damage, no wonder it didn’t drive very good after that, and we needed two or three pit stops to get the quarter panel pushed back down so there was some side force on the back of the car on corner entry and once we did that, we weren’t as good as we were at the start of the race but still very competitive.

“(Crew chief) Chad (Knaus) called for two (tires) late in the race. That picked us up a few more spots, and then I think the last two restarts I was in the outside lane, and that helped me out quite a bit. Wild night, but glad to get it in.”

Johnson’s teammate, Gordon, finished third.

“I’m very pleased the way we finished,” Gordon said. “It certainly wasn’t easy, and was filled full of ups and downs and emotions.  You know, the whole weekend really was.  We were very disappointed in the way we qualified.  I didn’t get the best out of the car.  But we were just lacking some speed, as well.  And in the race, I thought we were really, really good.

“The long runs I got a little bit tight.  It’s really difficult trying to maneuver the rubber building up on that top groove where they’ve ground it down.  I really hope they reconsider that in the future and do something about it, but anyway, it makes for some interesting racing out there, especially around lapped cars, just big, big challenges getting through traffic.  Makes it very hard to pass.

“But we were cruising along there making our way to the front, and I was pretty happy with the car, and then we had the loose wheel, which was a bummer, and lost two laps.  But the car was really fast after that, and we were able to get back on the lead lap, which was great, and then we lined up in the outside lane which was a huge plus tonight, a couple times on some restarts and ended up driving our way into the top 5.  We were in a good position to get a really nice, solid finish, and then all the chaos broke out with restarts and rain and crashes and everything else.  Found ourselves somehow in second, and I thought we were going to run out of fuel for sure, but luckily we didn’t.”

Finishing fourth and pumping some life in what has been a struggle of a 2015 season for him and his team was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Roush Fenway Racing.

“It’s good,” Stenhouse said of his finish. “It’s tough because we always feel like we can run well here.  It’s not 100 percent what every track is like and that’s the problem.  We go to Richmond next week and the track is old and it gets slick and wears out and we need the car to turn a little bit better.  We use the banking here to get the car to turn, so hopefully we can keep maintaining and getting our cars a little bit better each week.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Food City 500

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Sunday, April 19, 2015

 

  1. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 511, $212961.
  2. (28) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 511, $170011.
  3. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 511, $160861.
  4. (25) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 511, $125475.
  5. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 511, $135275.
  6. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 511, $131129.
  7. (14) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 511, $133423.
  8. (15) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 511, $126723.
  9. (26) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 511, $107365.
  10. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 511, $136351.
  11. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 511, $106340.
  12. (37) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 511, $131773.
  13. (30) Aric Almirola, Ford, 511, $134176.
  14. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 510, $126831.
  15. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 510, $112175.
  16. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 509, $112300.
  17. (24) Brett Moffitt #, Toyota, 509, $124864.
  18. (32) David Gilliland, Ford, 508, $120533.
  19. (39) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 508, $121995.
  20. (40) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 508, $110033.
  21. (22) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 508, $103708.
  22. (19) Michael McDowell, Ford, 507, $91875.
  23. (36) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 507, $91700.
  24. (3) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 507, $91825.
  25. (38) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, 505, $91325.
  26. (5) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 505, $109200.
  27. (42) Cole Whitt, Ford, 504, $103572.
  28. (31) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 504, $135450.
  29. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 504, $120120.
  30. (33) Greg Biffle, Ford, 504, $124458.
  31. (41) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, 502, $90625.
  32. (29) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 496, $89550.
  33. (43) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 490, $89500.
  34. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 489, $107450.
  35. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 489, $138341.
  36. (27) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, Accident, 487, $97350.
  37. (8) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 482, $107289.
  38. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 468, $143112.
  39. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, Accident, 466, $80415.
  40. (6) Joey Logano, Ford, 452, $123623.
  41. (11) David Ragan, Toyota, 435, $117406.
  42. (34) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, Accident, 416, $68415.
  43. (17) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 288, $64915.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  74.997 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 37 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.287 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 117 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Kenseth 1-5; K. Harvick 6-62; K. Busch 63; G. Biffle 64-69; K. Busch 70-125; K. Harvick 126-160; K. Busch 161-165; K. Harvick 166-169; K. Busch 170; K. Harvick 171-256; C. Edwards 257-266; K. Busch 267; C. Edwards 268-276; K. Harvick 277; C. Edwards 278-290; K. Harvick 291; C. Edwards 292-345; M. Kenseth 346; K. Larson 347-436; M. Kenseth 437-443; K. Busch 444-477; M. Kenseth 478-511.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 6 times for 184 laps; K. Busch 6 times for 98 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 90 laps; C. Edwards 4 times for 86 laps; M. Kenseth 4 times for 47 laps; G. Biffle 1 time for 6 laps.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 314; J. Logano – 284; M. Truex Jr. – 281; J. Johnson – 258; B. Keselowski – 255; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 241; K. Kahne – 237; M. Kenseth – 236; J. Gordon – 227; A. Almirola – 226; D. Hamlin – 223; J. Mcmurray – 223; D. Patrick – 211; P. Menard – 210; C. Edwards – 203; R. Newman – 201.

| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 20 2015
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