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2013 Darlington NASCAR: Kenseth back on a winning streak

"We all wanted this 700th start to be a memorable one," he said afterwards, crediting his crew and the crew chief Alan Gustafson for making it happen. "Alan called great calls and the pit stops were fantastic; especially when it counted the most there at the end.

"We were just bouncing between tight and loose and right there at the end, it was about the best that it had been all night," he said. "To be able to have good track position and have the car pretty well working for you; so, it was a really solid night. I'm very proud of this."

Gordon finished one place ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmie Johnson, who retains a comfortable 44 point lead in the Sprint Cup standings as a result of another strong finish this week.

"It was just a great 500 miles here at Darlington," said Johnson. "There is nothing easy about this race track. It keeps you on your toes all night long. We had a great car. we lost a little track position at the end but we still got back into the top five.

"I kind of ran second and third all night long; wish I was a little bit better, but this Emerald Green Lowe's Chevrolet was doing a good job," he said. "We had fun! I love this place. I wish we could race here three or four times a year."

The race had been marked with very few yellows, the first 124 laps going completely caution free before a caution for debris and then no further interruptions until lap 302. Those long green stints were what first Kurt Bursh and then his little brother Kyle Buch to enjoy such long untroubled stints at the front with the only breaks in their reign coming as a result of pit stop cycles.

The long green runs meant that a lot of big names were forced off the lead lap relatively early on by the hard-charging leaders, and the lack of cautions robbed those backmarkers of a chance of a lucky dog free pass to allow them to recover.

“Those long green flag runs just killed us,” said Stewart/Haas Racing's Danica Patrick, who was already on the back foot having been forced to switch to her practice car after a wreck in Friday's practice session. "It's tough because you get behind, and it's hard to get caught back up when the pace is that fast and there are so little yellows at the beginning.

"We had a setback in practice, and that cut into our practice time and because of that we didn't get to make any qualifying runs, which led us to going out cold in qualifying, which is not a strength of mine anyway," she admitted. "So it was just a tough weekend. Nothing is wasted. No run or no lap is wasted, but sometimes the fruits of your labor aren't realised until later on."

When the cautions came - and there were only four more of them - they were all packed into the last 65 laps of the race. Regan Smith spun out in turn 2 on lap 302; Casey Mears hit the wall coming out of turn 4 and collected Brad Keselowski shortly after the restart, also nearly taking Kurt Busch with them; there was another accident in turn 1 a dozen laps later involving David Reutimann and Josh Wise; and the final caution came on lap 334 when Kasey Kahne spun and hit the wall while going side-by-side with Kyle Busch for the lead of the race.




Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot / Husky Toyota, performs a burnout in celebration of winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2013 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot / Husky Toyota, celebrates with his crew in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2013 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Emerald Green Chevrolet and polesitter Kurt Busch, driver of the #78 Furniture Row Racing / Serta Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2013 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 The Home Depot / Husky Toyota, wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 11, 2013 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer Chevrolet, Brian Vickers, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Taxslayer.com Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW Chevrolet, Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Chevrolet, Brian Vickers, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 Nature`s Bakery Chevrolet, practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 12, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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