With his victory in the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday, Matt Kenseth not only earned his first win in something other than a Ford, he became just the third driver to give himself an on-track birthday present – the checkered flag.
Kenseth, in just his third race in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, held off the late-race charge from Kasey Kahne to join Cale Yarborough and his JGR teammate Kyle Busch as the only drivers to win Cup Series races on their birthday; Kenseth, who came to JGR after 13 seasons with Roush-Fenway Racing, turned 41 on Sunday. With the win, Kenseth moved up 11 spots to seventh in points.
“I’m not a goal person, but my goal was to win and win early,” said Kenseth post-race on NASCAR.com. “Nobody put any pressure on me except for myself, but I also know that Coach (Joe Gibbs) hired me to come here and climb in the car and win races. You certainly want to do that – you don’t want to disappoint people…It’s still only week three, but I feel like this is the beginning.”
Busch, driving the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on Sunday, backed up his second-place finish in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race with a fourth-place run on Sunday. Busch, who was 33rd in points going into Las Vegas, moved up 16 spots to 17th with the much-needed good finish.
The third JGR team, the No. 11 FedEx Office team of Denny Hamlin, finished 15th and maintained his fourth-place standing in points.
Brad Keselowski finished third behind Kenseth and Kahne, while Carl Edwards finished fifth.
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