Matt Kenseth Wins at Kentucky!
Matt Kenseth captured his fourth victory of the season in today’s rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Rain pushed the start of the race from Saturday night to this afternoon and the change from night to day would prove challenging to teams as did the continued threat of rain and a constant mix of clouds and sun. It appeared all three Joe Gibbs Racing teams adapted well however, with each racing among the leaders for much of the day. When it was over Kenseth had the win, while Kyle Busch finished fifth and an unfortunate blown right front tire would force Hamlin into the wall bringing an early end to what had appeared to be a promising day for the FedEx team.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 16th and was good through the early going of the race as he moved closer to the top ten despite battling loose handling conditions. Kenseth would get a great restart on lap 53 and jumped up into the second position. He would run inside the top five until he ran over some debris on the track forcing him to pit when many others remained out. That knocked Kenseth back outside the top ten, but he would manage to bring his Dollar General Camry back to the front and was racing second as the race reached the 200 lap mark. He would run fourth late in the race when a final caution brought everyone down pit road for a final time with just over 20 laps to go. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would make the call for a fuel only stop while many other leaders took at least two tires. The strategy worked as it allowed Kenseth to restart first and despite restarting alongside the 48 car, who had led the most laps on the day, he would manage to maintain the lead. The 48 car would spin to bring out another caution, but Kenseth managed to fight off a hard charge by the 15 car then drove away to bring home his fourth win of the season.
Busch started his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in fourth and raced inside the top five through the early portion of the race before he got loose and spin across the track. Busch managed to keep the car off the wall, but after coming down pit road for tires he would have to restart in 37th on lap 46. Busch would climb all the way back to the top 15 by lap 83 and great work by his Doublemint team and a little pit strategy would help him get back inside the top five for a restart on lap 93. Busch would continue to run up front with the leaders while battling changing handling conditions. The No. 18 Camry proved extremely fast with cloud cover, but was much looser when the sun was out. That made for a big challenge for the team as clouds came and went all afternoon. Despite the challenges Busch and the Doublemint team managed to bring it home with a strong fifth-place run.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Office in the sixth position and was strong early on as he raced his way into the top five. He would get fresh tires during a competition caution on lap 30 and restarted seventh as several teams made the call for just two tires. A few laps after the restart Hamlin would have a flat tire. Hamlin would be forced to bring his car down pit road and although he remained on the lead lap he would have to restart the race back in 37th. Still determined despite the setback, Hamlin drove his way back inside the top 15 by lap 83. He would restart back inside the top ten in ninth on lap 93 and would take his FedEx Office Camry back inside the top five for the halfway point of the race. He appeared set to compete for a win in Kentucky today, but unfortunately another right front tire would go down on lap 148 and this time it would force him up into the wall. The No. 11 Toyota would suffer big damage and the result was an early ending to what had been a promising day. Hamlin would finish 35th.
Kenseth won the race, followed by Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. There were 10 cautions for a total of 42 laps and 11 lead changes among six different drivers.