Matt Kenseth survives wild Cup race on new pavement at Kansas

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Zest Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Zest Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 21, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. –Fans who came to Kansas Speedway on Sunday thought they were attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Instead, they witnessed the latest episode of “Survivor.”

Matt Kenseth won a wild war of attrition, otherwise known as the Hollywood Casino 400, beating Martin Truex Jr. to the checkered flag by .495 seconds to claim his third victory of the season, his first at Kansas and the 24th of his career.

Paul Menard ran third, followed by polesitter Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, who rallied from a 33rd-place starting position and spin on the backstretch during the race.

Kenseth won the race despite scraping the wall behind spinning Aric Almirola on after a restart on Lap 173.

“I thought it was over when I got in the fence when Aric wrecked under Mark (Martin),” Kenseth said. “I was watching them and trying to make sure I didn’t hit them and I flat-sided it pretty bad. It ended up working in our favor. They fixed the body as good as it was when we started, and we had to take less gas in that last pit stop, and the pit crew put me out front.

“I knew I hit it really hard but thought it was centered up in the door real good, and we had a similar thing happen at Homestead last year. As soon as we got the fender back where it was supposed to be, it was fine. I was happy, as hard as I hit it, that my steering wheel was still in the right place.”

Throughout the day, however, other drivers found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The slick, new racing surface at the 1.5-mile speedway produced a track-record 14 cautions for 66 caution laps, and no one was immune from disaster — not even a five-time champion.

Jimmie Johnson’s quest for a sixth Cup title appeared to have suffered a severe setback on Lap 135, when the No. 48 Chevrolet spun in heavy traffic and backed into the Turn 4 wall. After leading 44 laps, Johnson had just taken a wave-around for a restart on Lap 128, having been trapped a lap down when Aric Almirola smacked the Turn 2 wall, and the resulting caution interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops.

Johnson, however, stayed on the lead lap through a succession of pit stops under the yellow, and a liberal application of BearBond kept the No. 48 competitive. Astoundingly, Johnson and his team salvaged a ninth-place finish on a day that could have been much worse and remained seven points behind eighth-place finisher and series leader Brad Keselowski with four races left in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“I’m very proud, but also disappointed,” Johnson said. “I crashed the car. I spun out trying to get inside the 56 (Truex). He bobbled a little in front of me, and I thought that was an opportunity to jump in the gas real hard.

“When I did that, my car took off and I couldn’t catch it. All-in-all, a good day, but it could have been a lot better. I think we could have been in Victory Lane, and stretched some points on these guys.”

Keselowski, who fought his way forward from the 25th starting position was thankful for a day that ended with his No. 2 Dodge intact.

“I’m ready to go home and have a couple beers,” Keselowski said after climbing from his car.”It’s just been a long day, Everybody has been asking all season long where the cautions have been. Well, they flew to Kansas and they’ve been hanging out here, because there was caution after caution, and it seemed like every wreck that happened today happened right in front of me.

“So, I’m glad to have survived the carnage and brought back a decent car in great shape and dodged a bullet of a race. That’s the only thing I can use to describe it.”

Despite the conditions, the repaving job, which included a reconfiguration with graduated banking, drew favorable reviews — not surprisingly — from drivers who finished near the front of the field.

“I thought the track was great,” Truex said. “The outside lane is going to come in really, really good — probably by next year, I would say. Their winters here are pretty rough, and I expect it will weather the track in really nicely.

“Once the outside got working, it was actually pretty darn good. It’s going to be a cool race track here in the future, and they did a great job with it.”


1. (12) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 267, $389611.

2. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267, $231954.

3. (14) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 267, $177615.

4. (1) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 267, $156015.

5. (33) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 267, $184840.

6. (3) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 267, $146854.

7. (39) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 267, $124015.

8. (25) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 267, $144310.

9. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267, $148651.

10. (19) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267, $147626.

11. (10) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267, $147991.

12. (18) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 267, $128088.

13. (9) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, $139471.

14. (17) Carl Edwards, Ford, 267, $140396.

15. (21) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267, $129613.

16. (24) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 267, $126496.

17. (31) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 267, $121863.

18. (26) Landon Cassill, Toyota, 267, $121350.

19. (8) Joey Logano, Toyota, 267, $102305.

20. (37) David Ragan, Ford, 267, $111013.

21. (32) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, 267, $92630.

22. (42) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 267, $100205.

23. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 266, $105363.

24. (2) Mark Martin, Toyota, 266, $90505.

25. (29) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 265, $109738.

26. (15) Sam Hornish Jr.(i), Dodge, Accident, 234, $131030.

27. (11) Greg Biffle, Ford, 227, $97380.

28. (20) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 214, $127330.

29. (5) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 212, $124491.

30. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 188, $130463.

31. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 181, $131813.

32. (40) Danica Patrick(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 154, $84130.

33. (22) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, Accident, 140, $101752.

34. (35) Scott Speed, Ford, Electrical, 77, $83730.

35. (13) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 69, $91780.

36. (30) Mike Bliss(i), Toyota, Vibration, 47, $83305.

37. (28) Casey Mears, Ford, Accident, 29, $83080.

38. (43) Kelly Bires, Ford, Rear Gear, 28, $82857.

39. (41) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, Brakes, 25, $79325.

40. (36) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Rear Gear, 22, $79080.

41. (34) Reed Sorenson(i), Toyota, Overheating, 18, $78805.

42. (27) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Vibration, 11, $78635.

43. (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, Vibration, 7, $78907.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  115.086 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 28 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.495 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  14 for 66 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Kahne 0; M. Martin 1-6; A. Almirola 7-33; D. Gilliland 34; A. Almirola 35-73; T. Kvapil 74; J. Johnson 75-118; A. Almirola 119-121; C. Bowyer 122-123; J. Gordon 124; C. Bowyer 125-127; M. Kenseth 128-156; J. Gordon 157; M. Martin 158-211; P. Menard 212-217; K. Kahne 218; M. Kenseth 219-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Kenseth 2 times for 78 laps; A. Almirola 3 times for 69 laps; M. Martin 2 times for 60 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 44 laps; P. Menard 1 time for 6 laps; C. Bowyer 2 times for 5 laps; J. Gordon 2 times for 2 laps; D. Gilliland 1 time for 1 lap; K. Kahne 1 time for 1 lap; T. Kvapil 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: B. Keselowski – 2,250; J. Johnson – 2,243; D. Hamlin – 2,230; C. Bowyer – 2,225; K. Kahne – 2,220; M. Truex Jr. – 2,207; T. Stewart – 2,203; J. Gordon – 2,199; M. Kenseth – 2,195; K. Harvick – 2,191; G. Biffle – 2,188; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 2,128.


Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.