Friday, October 15, 2021

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Kenseth survives Kansas melee for victory

If you’re a person who was longing for more caution flags in your Spring Cup Series races, Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway was the race for you.

With a track-record 14 caution flags in the 267-lap event, Sunday’s race marked the highest number of caution flags in a single event in the 2012 season, surpassing the August race at Bristol which had 13.

Although Kenseth wasn’t one of the drivers collected in those 14 caution flags, it doesn’t mean his day was smooth sailing.

When Aric Almirola looped his No.43 off the second corner while racing in the top-five, Kenseth brushed the wall off the corner, forcing him to come to pit road for repairs. However, his race wasn’t near over. In all actuality, it may have helped Kenseth.

As attrition took its toll on the field, Kenseth was able to pit for fuel and tires, giving him an advantage as the race neared its end.

But, while the No.17 team was in a way hoping for a caution flag, the driver who played a hand in bringing him to the Roush Fenway Racing organization needed to have the race stay green for his fuel mileage strategy to play out for a win.

Pitting from the lead with 55 laps to go, Mark Martin’s day would go only downhill from there as Almirola blew a right-front tire in the middle of the third and fourth turn, sending his car into the wall and bringing out the caution flag, pinning Martin in the back of the field.

On what would be the final round of pit stops, Kenseth’s crew was able to get their driver off pit road with the lead. And from there, well, the rest was history.

After Sam Hornish Jr. brought out what would turn out to be the final caution of the race, setting up a restart with 28 laps to go.

Pulling away from the field quickly, Kenseth was able to hold a sizeable gap over the second place car of Martin Truex Jr.

Maneuvering through the lapped traffic on the final lap, Kenseth slid off the final corner on his way to winning Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.

“I love it when a plan comes together,” said Kenseth in victory lane. “Had a really fast car today and unfortunately got in the wall with about 80 to go and had to come in and get the fenders off it and fix it up.”

For Kenseth, it’s his second victory in the past three races after winning earlier this month at Talladega Superspeedway.

And much like Talladega, a caution helped him to victory.

“It actually turned out to be a stroke of good luck for us,” said Kenseth regarding his brush of the wall. “Made that last pit stop and didn’t need as much fuel to get full like everybody else, beat everybody off pit road, just had a great pit stop.”

Kenseth wasn’t the only one to have cautions play towards his favor on Sunday. Jimmie Johnson, who was involved in lap 137 spin which heavily damaged his Chevrolet.

Using the many caution laps to his advantage, the No.48 team was able to repair the car for Johnson which ultimately resulted in a ninth place finish and saving his championship hopes.

“Definitely proud of this team and the fact that we never give up and contine to fit and get every point we can,” said Johnson post-race.

“I crashed the car. I spun out trying to get inside the 56 (Truex Jr.). He slowed a little in front of me, and I thought that was an opportunity to jump in the gas. When I did that, the car took off and couldn’t catch it.

“All-in-all a good day, but it could have been a little better.”

Johnson trails championship leader Brad Keselowski by seven points heading into next Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

“It’s just a long day. Everybody’s been asking where the cautions have been all year, well they’ve been hanging out in Kansas because there was caution after caution,” said Keselowski.

“Glad I survived the carnage and brought back a decent car. Dodge a bullet of a race, that’s the only way to describe it.”

Unofficial Hollywood Casino 400 Results

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Paul Menard
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Regan Smith
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Jeff Gordon
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Marcos Ambrose
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Carl Edwards
  15. Jamie McMurray
  16. Juan Pablo Montoya
  17. Travis Kvapil
  18. Landon Cassill
  19. Joey Logano
  20. David Ragan
  21. Trevor Bayne
  22. Timmy Hill
  23. David Gilliland
  24. Mark Martin
  25. Kurt Busch
  26. Sam Hornish Jr.
  27. Greg Biffle
  28. Jeff Burton
  29. Aric Almirola
  30. Ryan Newman
  31. Kyle Busch
  32. Danica Patrick
  33. Bobby Labonte
  34. Scott Speed
  35. AJ Allmendinger
  36. Mike Bliss
  37. Casey Mears
  38. Kelly Bires
  39. Dave Blaney
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. Reed Sorenson
  42. JJ Yeley
  43. Michael McDowell

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