Matt Kenseth rallied back from a pit- road speeding penalty and held onto the lead to gain his fifth victory of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading for 149 laps, for the 53rd annual IRWIN Tools Night Race. Kenseth has 29 victories in 496 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, three of those victories have come at Bristol.
“I hope were back,” said Kenseth in victory lane refering to the last few weeks of problems.
“We raced as hard as we can race, used every inch of race track,” Kenseth added about racing against Kasey Kahne for the last few laps. “I had just enough to hold on just enough fuel and just enough tires.”
Kahne was bound and determined to pass Kenseth over the final 20 laps, but settle for second, this is the third time this season Kahne has finished second behind Kenseth, who on Saturday night clinched at least a wild card slot in The Chase for the Sprint Cup Champion.
Kanhe was fed up with all of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers by the time the contact with Matt Kenseth ended his race early at Watkins Glen earlier this month.
With it being the fourth time a JGR driver wrecking him, Kahne took to Twitter to voice his resentment posting, “Headed to Joe Gibbs Racing to talk to whoever will come out front.”
But given the chance Saturday night to redeem himself, Kahne choose the high road.
“I don't know, I just don't -- I think at the end of the day I just don't wreck people,” Kahne said in the post race interview. “If I was trying to get there I would’ve wrecked probably both of us, it would’ve just been a wreck.”
Kahne continued saying, “I just tried to pass him as clean as could and I thought I had him at one point I had a good run, tried to slide across and he just kept position and we were rubbing all the way down off Turn 4, I just didn’t clear him.”
Race leaders were plagued with problems as one by one they had problems on the track. Kurt Busch led early for 54 laps, but had a costly incident as his team needed to replace a hub, going 24 laps down and finished 31st, causing Busch to fall out of the top ten in points. Clint Bowyer led 50 laps but was spun out by a lap car. Carl Edwards blew an engine after leading for 119 laps just shy of lap 400. Kevin Harvick lead for 7 laps and was caught up into the wreck with Denny Hamlin, who also led for 23 laps, after the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota cut a tire after contact with Brian Vickers in the #55, Martin Truex Jr. was also collect in that same wreck, Truex Jr. led for only 2 laps. Even Kenseth himself overcame a pit-road speeding penalty, that happened mid-way through the race.
With Kahne finishing in second, he moves up 3 positions to 8th in the standings, but still has to lock up for the chase, is in good shape with two wins. Joey Logano moved into the 10th spot after finishing fifth.
Series champion Brad Keselowski, who was involved in the Vickers and Hamlin crash, and Kurt Busch, both fell out of the top ten in points, leaving Ryan Newman and Truex Jr hanging on to the wild card slots with only two races remaining before the Chase field is locked.
Juan Pablo Montoya finished 3rd, with Vickers finishing in 4th and Logano in 5th, Paul Menard, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. round out the top ten.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday, September 1, for the Advocare 500, televised on ESPN with coverage starting at 7:30 eastern time.