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Kenseth wins as Johnson crashes out

"We had a pretty decent car all night," said Kenseth. "I felt like we had a car that probably the last 150 laps or so that if we could get it to the front it would be hard to beat, but it was just really hard to pass tonight, especially if you had about 20 laps on your tires.

"It was a good race - I had fun racing with Kyle there," he added. "It was tough to get by him and I'm glad we could make it happen because it was challenging.”

Kyle was less thrilled with how things had turned out, although he didn't begrudge Kenseth the win: "He found something that none of us could find tonight," he said. "He just out drove me." But he was frustrated at how - having led 111 of the 334 laps of the race compared to Kenseth's 46 despite starting from the back following a post-qualifying engine change - the second place finish didn't seem to have changed his Chase prospects one jot. He remains stuck around 18pts off the leader, with the races ticking past at an alarming rate.

"It's frustrating but we'll take it. If we can finish second from here on out, we might win this deal, but these other guys - the #29 and #99 finished too good tonight, too." He pointed out that missing out on the win was costly in terms of championship points in an exceptionally tight Chase: "We still lost a position, which is four points essentially, because you get three bonus points for winning a race."

Talking of the #99, Carl Edwards was not as happy with Kyle Busch's racing during those final ten laps as Kenseth had professed to being. "There's a difference between racing hard and then cutting across a guy's nose," Edwards complained in pit road. "What I told Kyle is I just wonder why, coming off of turn 2 when I got underneath him, that he drove down instead of going up to the wall like we would normally do. And I just let him know that next time that happens, I'll just stay where I'm at and he can drive across my hood and wreck himself."

"I got loose," replied Busch. "It was steering me down the track instead of my butt going up the track, and I was just trying to hold on and not do anything," he explained. "Then I side-drafted him to stay alongside of him down the backstretch, and that was it. I was trying to keep my position."

Meanwhile the #29 of Kevin Harvick finished in sixth place, having dodged a bullet in the evening's only multi-car wreck on lap 293 when a restart attempt got too bunched up and caused damage to the cars of Jeff Gordon, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne. Harvick himself had dived to the infield, losing positions on the process but staying safe to live to fight again at another restart.

Filling out the top six were non-Chase contenders Kasey Kahne in fourth, Marcos Ambrose an impressive fifth and AJ Allmendinger in seventh. Polesitter Tony Stewart came home in eighth place ahead of two more Chase drivers, Denny Hamlin in ninth and Stewart's team mate Ryan Newman in tenth fresh from his close encounter with the wrecking Johnson.

Stewart had led the initial 42 laps of the race until the first round of pit stops, after which Greg Biffle had picked up pace and headed to the front from lap 50 through 123 save for a five-lap period during yellow flag pit stops that saw Ryan Newman in the lead. Matt Kenseth then emerged as the leader after a round of green-flag pit stops, before a caution period had put Stewart back in the lead again on lap 149; and then from lap 200 it had been all Kyle Busch after he'd fought his way from the back of the grid, until the moment Kenseth managed to get past him in the closing minutes of the race.

As well as the cautions for Johnson's crash and Biffle's tyre, there were debris cautions on laps 78, 148 and 156; a caution for Trevor Bayne stopping on track on lap 238 with fuel line problems; and a caution on lap 287 when Dave Blaney's dying engine put down oil on the track. That last incident had led to the ill-fated restart attempt on lap 294 that had caught out Gordon, Ragan and Kahne.

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Fluidmaster Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 15, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Sport Clips Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 FVP/Menards Chevrolet SS finishes in fourth place and Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS finishes in fourteenth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in third place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS finishes in second place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, climbs into his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Larson is 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies for 2nd position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS celebrates with his team after winning the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson drives the #42 Target Chevrolet through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, poses for a photo with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert after winning the pole during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS stops in his pit before victory Sunday, March 15, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Harvick`s fourth straight win at Phoenix. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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