NASCAR »

Kentucky: Kenseth wins after late spin denies Johnson

Matt Kenseth won in Kentucky for the first time in Cup competition after setbacks for Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski.
A race beset with an early flurry of cautions settled down into a steady state that pointed to only one winner - championship leader Jimmie Johnson. But despite leading for more than two-thirds of the race, it turned out that the five-time champion was still unable to clinch what should have been his first Cup victory at Kentucky Speedway after all.

After the disappointment of the previous evening's rain postponement of the Quaker State 400 Cup race, all the drivers were relieved to see blue skies and a dry track awaiting them come noon on Sunday. The weather and drying operations had washed the surface clear of the tyre rubber that had built up, and so in the first stint of the race many of the drivers were soon complaining of slick conditions making the tail-happy cars lack rear grip.

As a result, everyone was happy to see the scheduled competition caution on lap 30 that allowed them to come in for fresh tyres and make their first round of set-up changes, especially given that their cars had originally been prepared for an evening race rather than a noon start and there no time had been available for alterations before the green flag, which had seen Carl Edwards lead early from polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr. was back in front after the pit stops with Jimmie Johnson in second, but the race faced problems getting back underway. At the first attempt, a right front tyre blow-out for Denny Hamlin in turn 4 left debris on the track, some of which hit and damaged the cars of Earnhardt and Johnson although not enough to require them to give-up track position to come in for repair. At the second restart attempt it was Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Kyle Busch who sent for a spin in turn 2 to bring out another rapid return to caution, although miraculously no one collected the #18 as it went awry.

The next restart - and near-instantaneous caution - wasn't such a lucky affair, as Kurt Busch attempted to get a run on Brad Keselowski on lap 47 only to get propelled up the banking and into the #2 in a violent impact that badly damaged the rear end of the Penske car, also inflicting heavy damage on the front end of the #16 of Greg Biffle, with the #93 of Travis Kvapil and #7 Dave Blaney also sent to the garage and Paul Menard and Landon Cassill both having to limp back to pit road for repairs which had to wait while the race went under a 20 minute red flag to enable track workers to effect the extensive clean-up operations.

"We were trying to get patient because it looked like we will get the whole race in before rain and there is no reason to drive like an animal. Apparently I am the only one that got that memo. It is one of those deals," signed Keselowski, who takes a big hit in the Cup standings and drops out of the all-important top ten as a result.

"I know he didn't intentionally wreck me but it is just one of those things," Keselowski added when asked how he felt about Kurt Busch's apology relayed over the Furniture Row Racing team radio. "A chain of events with the way the cars drive and the track has that really bad bump down there and we all know it. There is no reason to go down there but he still did.

“I am still wrecked so I don't know. He is smarter than that. He knows better than that," he added. "It was a pretty good hit but the back of these Cup cars have a lot of safety zones in them and if there is a place to take a hit like that, that is the spot. I am thankful for that." Keselowski later resumed the race albeit more than a hundred laps down, picking up a few spots - and championship points - by finishing ahead some of the other early retirees.

"I don't know what happened with the #18 earlier but we got lucky and missed that one," said Biffle for his part. "We weren't fortunate enough to miss this one. I was trying to get to the bottom to miss the #2 and couldn't get it. I was on the brakes and the nose might have been on the race track or something. I couldn't get to the bottom to miss him."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #88 National Guard Youth Foundation Chevrolet SS takes a pit stop Sunday, June 30, 2013 at Kentucky Speedway during the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Kentucky. Earnhardt, Jr. started on the pole, but hit debris from a shredded tire early in the race, finishing twelfth. (Photo by Tim Parks for Chevrolet)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS captured eighth place while Kasey Kahne, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS raced to eleventh place Sunday, June 30, 2013 at Kentucky Speedway in the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kurt Busch, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #78 Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet SS, far right, raced to sixth place Sunday, June 30, 2013 at Kentucky Speedway in the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Parks for Chevrolet)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #1 Hellmann’s Chevrolet SS captured second place Sunday, June 30, 2013 at Kentucky Speedway in the Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Tim Parks for Chevrolet)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The car of Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M/National Fallen Firefighter`s Foundation Ford, is brought into the garage after a wreck during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 30, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/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)
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)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during 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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during 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)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.