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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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, races Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ford, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified for twelfth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. After a three-race absence, Tony Stewart has returned to the track at Atlanta. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS, qualified for fourth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Newman is 9th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualified for third position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. Larson is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, won the Pole position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. It was Harvick`s sixth pole win of the 2014 season. He is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, talks to Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS, finished ninth and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Great Stuff Chevrolet SS, finished 28th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS, finished eighth and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, finished 35th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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