Race Report: Kansas
Matt Kenseth led Joe Gibbs Racing with a 10th-place finish in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, while teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin battled to finish 15th and 18th respectively.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota 28th and was patient through the early portion of the race as he waited for the sunset in hopes it would help his Camry turn better in the corners. He would get trapped a lap down after he pitted under the green flag just before a caution came out on lap 48. Kenseth would struggle to get back on the lead lap as the cautions didn’t fall his way and kept him trapped outside the top 20. Finally he was racing as the first car one lap down when the caution fell on lap 181 allowing him back on the lead lap. Kenseth restarted just outside the top ten with 60 laps to go and was running ninth a lap later on lap 208. He continued to climb toward the front and was all the way into second with 29 to go as the field cycled through a round of green flag pit stops. He would make his stop with 24 to go. Once the field completed the cycle of stops the Dollar General Camry was racing in 11th. He would go on to finish 10th.
Busch started the No. 18 Snickers Toyota 20th but managed to patiently climb his way forward in the field and was inside the top ten despite trying to turn a loose handling race car. He appeared set to restart inside the top ten on lap 118, but a pit road speeding penalty would prove costly as he would have to come back down pit road to serve a pass through penalty prior to the restart. That put him at the end of the lead lap cars. Busch would go a lap down but was able hold the position as the first car one lap down and when a caution came out on lap 151 he was back on the lead lap. He would pit under that long caution on lap 158 and crew chief Dave Rogers made the call for track position by not pitting when cautions came out on lap 181 and again on lap 188. The gamble gave Busch the necessary track position to compete with the leaders and although he was racing on older tires, he still managed to run sixth with 50 laps to go. Rogers would bring him down pit road with 47 laps remaining off sequence with the rest of the field but in their fuel window to make it to the end. Busch was 15th once the field cycled through with just eight laps to go and that is where he would take the checkered flag.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in 30th and struggled with a loose handling car much of the night but especially through the early portion of the race. Hamlin would go a lap down early on but a caution quickly followed allowing him to get back on the lead lap. The loose handling would persist however and Hamlin would spin on lap 71 bringing out a caution. He did manage to keep the FedEx Camry off the wall out of harm’s way which enabled him to remain on the lead lap. He would remain just outside the top ten through the halfway mark of the race and crew chief Darian Grubb would call for a two-tire stop to gain track position and Hamlin lined up third for a restart on lap 160. Although Hamlin would give way to several cars on four tires over the course of the next run he would remain in the top ten. Crew chief Darian Grubb would bring Hamlin down pit road under caution following a lap 181 caution and he lined up 18th with 83 laps to go. Another caution with 65 laps to go would bring the FedEx Camry back down pit road again. Hamlin was 19th with 50 laps to go, but as the field cycled through a round of green flag stops he was running sixth with 20 to go and was up to second with 11 to go. He would hit pit road with nine to go for a final splash of fuel. That would drop him a lap down and back in 18th and that is where he would finish.
Jeff Gordon won the race followed by Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 47 laps and 24 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, May 11. Fox Sports 1 will have all the live coverage beginning on Saturday, May 17 at 7 PM ET with coverage of qualifying (race begins approximately at 9 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.