by Justin Tucker
Matt Kenseth sent a message on Friday Afternoon during Sprint Cup Series Qualifying to the field. Kenseth rocketed his No. 20 Husky Tools Toyota to a track qualifying record of 191.864 MPH in earning the pole for Sunday’s STP 400.
On Sunday Afternoon, Kenseth would prove to be the dominator, leading 163 of 267 laps en route to earning his second victory of the season and his second straight win at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth who led 110 out of the first 111 laps would take advantage of track position and outstanding pit stops from his #20 pit crew to set the tone for the day and would pull away from Kasey Kahne is the closing laps to score his 26th NSCS win. Kenseth became the third straight pole sitter to win a race in 2013. The first time that has happened since 1985.
“It was kind of like musical chairs,” Kenseth said about staying in front of the field for the advantage. “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).
“Thankfully, I had a couple of really crazy-good restarts for some reason and made up some ground and got us back in position.”
Kasey Kahne continued his stellar 2013 with a 2nd place finish at Kansas on Sunday. Kahne rallied from a 27th place starting spot and found himself in the top 5 shortly after halfway and chasing down Kenseth in the closing laps but ran out of time finishing .150 seconds behind the #20 of Kenseth.
“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,” said Kahne,
“It made my car a little bit looser. So tried a few things there, and he kind of blocked those spots and went those directions and gained the speed that I was, and then we were even again. It was tough, but we still had a great race.” Kahne currently sits 37 points behind Jimmie Johnson in the NSCS standings.
Jimmie Johnson continued his championship form in 2013 on Sunday with a strong 3rd place effort in the STP 400. Johnson overcame a suspect qualifying effort starting 21st by mythodically marching his way through the field and running in the top 5 for much of the afternoon and rounded out his race by bringing his Kobalt Tools Chevrolet home 3rd.
“A strong performance, solid on pit road,” said Johnson. “I think Chad’s strategy today was flawless. About two stops from the end we started to get a little tight, and it was the first time I was tight so we probably didn’t react as much as we should have, just trying to be cautious because the car was so loose at other times in the race, and just lacked a little bit there at the end.”
Johnson currently leads the NSCS standings by 37 points over teammate Kasey Kahne.
Martin Truex Jr. backed up his 2nd place run from Texas with a 4th place finish at Kansas on Sunday. Truex led 46 laps on Sunday and moved up to 14th in the NSCS standings.
Hometown boy Clint Bowyer recorded a solid afternoon at Kansas on Sunday by finishing 5th at his home track. The 5th place finish moved Bowyer to 9th in the standings 64 behind Johnson.
Kyle Busch had a weekend he would like to forget. After crashing out of Saturday’s Truck Series race his focused turned to Sunday’s race and a chance to record his 1st win at Kansas Speedway. On lap 5, Busch spun off turn 4 relegating him back to the back of the field. Busch would slowly make his way through the field until lap 104 after spinning off of turn 4 and collected Joey Logano in the incident. Busch would finish 38th.
Rounding out the top 10 on Sunday in the STP 400 were Brad Keselowski,Jamie McMurray,Aric Amirola,Mark Martin, and Paul Menard.
The Sprint Cup Series heads to the Richmond International Raceway next week for the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday night. Green flag is scheduled for 7:44 P.M. E.S.T.