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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

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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)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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