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Kenseth survives to win crash-prone Kansas

Finally on lap 188 there was a restart that took: Martin was in the lead and Paul Menard quickly passed Clint Bowyer for second at the green flag. Martin stayed in the lead until his next pit stop - hopefully his last of the day - which came just before the 13th caution of the afternoon triggered by Aric Almirola's second encounter with the wall - this time a hard one, and definitely the end of the race for the battered #43.

“We blew another right front. It was a big hit and I lost my breath there for a minute so I had to collect my thoughts," he admitted. "I am disappointed. I have never in my entire life had a race car that good. It was so fast and so easy to drive.

"All the guys worked really hard all weekend and we had a spectacular car," he added. "I hate that it ends like this but I have always been told you have to give a few away before you can win one and I feel like we certainly gave one away today."

Everyone pitted with a view to making it to the end - even Martin was back in to top-off in case of a green-white-chequered extension to the scheduled 267 laps - and the green was out again on lap 222 with Kenseth leading Stewart, Kahne, Menard and Bowyer over the line. Kenseth consolidated the lead, Kahne moved into second and Menard took over third as Stewart went into reverse - replaced at the sharp end of the field by a charging Regan Smith in the #88 who was soon tangling with Menard.

There was one final yellow to add to the lengthy tally of the afternoon, when Sam Hornish Jr. ended his day in the wall at turns 1 and 2 on lap 234 after contact with Kurt Busch, who was struggling with fender damage from the earlier multi-car accident on lap 182.

"I got spun by the #78 and tried to make it one more lap to get a yellow flag," Hornish said. "We had more yellows today than the rest of the year combined (laughs). It's been pretty tough today. Everyone knows that they have to get everything they can on the restarts because it's so hard to pass once everyone gets strung out. Everybody is trying to take advantage of each other and you get lots of yellows when that happens."

A few drivers opted to pit under the 14th caution of the day, but the leaders were still Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard and Regan Smith when the race resumed on lap 239: Martin Truex Jr. pushed through into second as Smith got swallowed up in traffic which shuffled the running order at the green flag, but Kenseth was free and clear in front and soon pulling out a big lead over the rest of the field. Providing there were no more incidents, it looked like Kenseth had this one in the bag.

Kurt Busch did scrape the wall on lap 256 with just over ten laps to go, but NASCAR was in no mood for any more cautions today, thank you very much, and kept the race under green as Busch limped the Furniture Row Racing car home. "We were severely handicapped after that accident [on lap 182] but didn't quit," said Busch. "We still felt we could salvage a respectable finish."

Busch stressed that his focus on these final remaining races of the season were about getting as much of a head start on the 2013 competition as possible. "Again, these final races are to get us prepared for next season," said Busch. "Today, the learning curve was shortened and we have plenty of good things to look forward to. It was a great team effort."

"Kurt Busch showed all of us today what an impressive driver he is,” said Busch's new crew chief, Todd Berrier. “It was hard not to be in awe of his driving skills. We're excited about the future, and the more races we work together, the better we will become. It was the performance that counted today, not the finishing result.”




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