(WOMR file photo)
Matt Kenseth has added his name to a select group of Sprint Cup drivers who have won a Sprint Cup race on their birthday. That list had only two members until the finish of the Kobalt 400 Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now Kenseth can add his name to that list!
He was not the most dominating race car Sunday, that title went to Kasey Kahne. Nevertheless, Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne after a restart with 26 laps remaining in the race. This win was the first for Kenseth since his move, in the off season, to Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I just knew it,” he said. “I just feel really good about this group. I really feel like this is just the beginning. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is pretty much the man.”
In winning the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career, Kenseth, who turned 41 Sunday, became the third driver in series history to win on his birthday, joining Cale Yarborough and Kyle Busch in that exclusive club.
Kenseth crossed the finish line .594 seconds ahead of Kahne, who led a race-high 114 laps. Defending series champion Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard completed the top 10.
Kahne had opened a lead of more than two seconds over Johnson when the engine in Travis Kvapil’s Toyota exploded in Turn 4, trailing smoke and dropping oil on the track.
During pit stops under caution on Lap 226 of 267, Kenseth and Keselowski opted for fuel only and left pit road 1-2, with Johnson, Edwards, Earnhardt and Kahne—all of whom took two tires—trailing behind them.
Kahne lost five spots in the pits after his egress from his pit stall was blocked by Tony Stewart, who had to slow down on the way to his pit box to avoid Kenseth, who was leaving after the fuel-only stop.
Kahne got two spots back after a restart on Lap 231, but his progress was interrupted on Lap 235 when Ryan Newman’s Chevrolet blew its engine on Lap 235.
After the subsequent yellow, Kahne restarted fourth on Lap 242. Kenseth kept the HMS Farmer’s Insurance #5 Chevrolet at bay the rest of the way.
As the race haulers leave Las Vegas, and head back to Charlotte, Johnson is leading the points by 5 points over Brad Keselowski, and 10 points of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Check out the unofficial results of the Kobalt 400.
Here is the Sprint Cup standings after the Kobalt 400.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM WORKING ON MY REDNECK!