Las Vegas Race Report
Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 10th-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His teammates were not far behind with Kyle Busch earning an 11th-place finish and Denny Hamlin crossing the line in 12th.
Matt Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 29th position and was able to patiently make progress as he moved up through the field. He was running 19th when a caution came out on lap 45 and a two-tire call from crew chief Jason Ratcliff allowed Kenseth to jump up into 11th for the restart a few laps later. The Dollar General Camry would climb into the top 10 and was running in the eighth position on lap 61. He would continue to run eighth through a round of green flag stops just past the 100-lap mark. Kenseth would remain just inside the top ten as the race reached the 200-lap mark. A final caution on lap 225 would allow him to bring the Dollar General Camry back down pit road one final time for a splash of fuel and Kenseth would restart 10th. He would manage to hold that spot to the finish line.
Kyle Busch started his No. 18 M&Ms Peanut Toyota from the 20th position and was able to gain several positions during the opening run but he would get boxed into his pit box on the opening round of stops which forced him toward the back of the field for the ensuing restart. The setback did little to deter Busch however as began an impressive run to the front of the field that would take him all the way to the lead by lap 77. The No. 18 Camry would enjoy the clean air and the M&Ms crew would increase his lead with a tremendous green flag stop just after the 100 lap mark. Busch, who led three different times for a total of 52 laps on the day, would drop to second on the long green flag run that followed, but the M&Ms crew gave him back the spot during a round of stops under caution on lap 156. He would restart third behind only two cars that elected not to pit. The No. 18 Camry would become tight in the center of the turns and Busch would lose a few spots dropping back to fourth on the next run. Crew chief Dave Rogers would bring Busch back down pit road for a quick splash of fuel while under caution on lap 225 and he would line up fifth for what proved to be the final restart. The M&Ms Camry just didn’t turn as well in traffic on the final run however and Busch would take the checkered flag in 11th.
Hamlin started No. 11 FedEx Ground Camry from the 27th position and was able to work his way into the top 20 over the course of the first 45 laps. Crew chief Darian Grubb would call for a two tire change during a series of pit stops on lap 47 which provided Hamlin the track position he needed to race with the leaders. Hamlin would restart 10th and continued to hold that position through a round of green flag stops on lap 102. He would run just outside the top ten when the race went past the 200-lap mark. The FedEx team would stretch that green flag run as long as possible before bringing Hamlin back to pit road for a final time with just over 50 laps to go. When a caution came out just a few laps later, Hamlin would have the luxury of remaining out on the track to restart third on lap 225. Unfortunately the handling on his FedEx Camry just wasn’t there and Hamlin began to drop back from the leaders while racing in traffic. He would go on to finish the day in 12th.
Brad Keselowski of Penske Racing won the race, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Paul Menard, Joey Logano, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. There were four cautions for a total of 18 laps and 21 lead changes among 10 different drivers.