KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The fast, smooth new surface at Kansas Speedway had the potential to wreak havoc on the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The recent repave cluttered Sunday’s race with 14 cautions – a season high in the Sprint Cup Series – and contributed to issues that affected at least four title contenders.
But the standings looked much the same when Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag in a battered Ford that he banged hard into the wall midway through the race.
Kenseth still managed to drive it to his second victory in three races, while Brad Keselowski dodged accident after accident to keep his seven-point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the standings with four races remaining in the Chase.
“I was thinking, ‘Man, this has to be entertaining for everybody to watch,’ ” Kenseth said. “There was a lot of wild stuff happening.”
That was an understatement when the longest green-flag run was 35 laps early in the race. Some of the cautions were caused by tire problems, others were for single-car spins, including Chase drivers Johnson, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash.
And, Danica Patrick wrecked herself when she intentionally hit Landon Cassill.
“You know, everybody has been asking all season long where the cautions have been,” Keselowski said. “Well, they flew to Kansas and they’ve been hanging out here because there was caution after caution.”
Biffle’s spin ended his day with a hard crash into the wall.
“I lost it, man. It got away from me off of (Turn No.) four and we wrecked it,” said Biffle, who dropped five spots in the standings to 11th. “I had no indication, no little wiggle, no sideways. It just got away from me and it killed our day.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished second, Paul Menard was third in the first race back for crew chief Slugger Labbe, who served a six-race suspension for an infraction at Michigan.
Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne, who started on the pole, finished fourth and was followed by defending champion Stewart, who overcame a spin during the race and a pit road penalty for leaving his stall with equipment still attached to his car.
“An eventful day,” Stewart said.
Kansan Clint Bowyer, the winner last week at Charlotte, finished sixth to maintain fourth in the Chase standings. He trimmed his deficit by three points to 25 behind Keselowski.
“We’ve just got to keep digging,” Bowyer said. “You’ve got to keep gaining on them.”