When Matt Kenseth left longtime team owner Jack Roush to go race for Joe Gibbs, many thought a transition period was needed for Kenseth to adjust to his new team, his new car, and his new expectations for success. Nine races, two wins, and eighth place in the standings later I think we can all admit that those thinking Kenseth would need a transition period were wrong.
Matt Kenseth continued to prove his critics wrong Sunday afternoon after he held off a charging Kasey Kahne in the final 20 laps to win the STP 500 at Kansas Motor Speedway, and solidified himself as a legitimate threat for the Sprint Cup title. Kenseth, who led 163 of the scheduled 267 laps, also won from the pole position, making it the third straight week a driver has won from the first starting spot.
In victory lane, Kenseth, the driver of the Number twenty Toyota, described the racing at Kansas in an interview with Fox sports:
“It was kind of like musical chairs. You had to be out front when the music stopped. Our car was very fast in clean air. It was reasonable in dirty air, but it wasn’t quite good enough to catch all them guys and pass ’em (in traffic).”
Kasey Kahne, the driver of the number five Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, finished second behind Kenseth, making it twice this season that Kenseth and Kahne finished one-two. Kahne who now stands second in points behind teammate Jimmie Johnson gave a statement of frustration in his post-race interview with Fox Sports stating:
“We were very close at the end, battling with Matt. (it) Felt like Vegas all over again, just kind of felt like really similar to that in how I could catch him but couldn’t really do anything once I got close.”
Joey Logano and Kyle Busch’s day went up in smoke after a crash on lap 104 when Busch’s Toyota got loose and hit the wall in turn four before sliding down the track and head on into former teammate Joey Logano. Parts went flying out of both cars as they came to a stop in the grass ending their day with significant front end damage.
The wreck left Logano twentieth in points, dropping him down six spots. Kyle Busch also took a significant hit in the points due to the crash slipping from second to seventh, 59 points behind Jimmie Johnson. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was poised for an excellent finish in Sunday’s race until he made a scheduled pit stop as a caution came out for debris on the race track from Keselowski’s car dropping him Jeff Gordon, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a lap down. Stenhouse made a late race charge on the final restart driving through the pack from twentieth h to finish eleventh h
Defending champion Brad Keselowski continued to look even more like a champion in Sunday’s race. Keselowski made contact with another driver in the opening laps of the race destroying the left quarter panel of his Penske Ford. During the first caution Keseslowski came down pit road twice for repairs and fresh tires going a lap down to the leaders. Keselowski later got the free pass, and battled his way up to 6th place not losing to much ground on Jimmie Johnson in the points standings.
Dale Jr. was not so lucky. He made up little ground on the other drivers in closing laps finishing sixteenth, and dropping to sixth place in the standings. Dale Jr. has a chance to rebound next week as the series heads to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400, a race that Earnhardt Jr has won multiple times.
Also expect a rebound from Martin Truex Jr. at Richmond. He finished fourth at Kansas and second at Texas last week. With a win on Martin Truex Jr’s. mind, and a great equalizer race in Richmond there is no doubt in my mind that Truex Jr. can snap his 211 race winless streak and get Michael Waltrip Racing to victory lane for the first time in the 2013 season .
What did you think of Sunday’s race at Kansas? Does Kansas deserve its annual chase race at the end of the year? Which driver do you think made the biggest statement at Kansas? Comment below and let me know.