Kenseth Holds Off Kahne for Vegas Win

Kenseth celebrates in victory lane. Photo- Getty Images
Kenseth celebrates in victory lane. Photo- Getty Images

Happy Birthday Matt Kenseth! What better way to celebrate your birthday than in victory lane? Everything came together Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas for Kenseth and his crew earned him this win. This win sends a huge statement throughout the garage that says Kenseth is already acquainted with his new team and he is ready to pounce on his competition. Kenseth’s crew chief Jason Ratcliff made the late strategy call by taking no tires on the final pit stop and that allowed Kenseth to be up front. Once Kenseth got to the lead, he never looked back. Kenseth gave Kasey Kahne a few glances in his rearview mirror in the closing laps since Kahne was so close but, other than that, Kenseth didn’t look back once he gained the lead.

The race played out fairly typical for Las Vegas and there were no major surprises. The Gen 6 car’s debut on an intermediate track went well and the new car is the likely result of the fantastic race to the finish we witnessed. Kasey Kahne dominated the race and he just couldn’t get around Kenseth in the closing laps which prevented Kahne from taking the win he more than earned. Kahne took the lead for the first time of the day on lap 11. After the first round of green-flag pit stops, Kahne still was still up front and in the lead. The first caution of the day didn’t come out until lap 66 when debris was spotted on the backstretch. Kahne had the lead following the caution but, he was soon passed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Once the second round of green-flag pit stops cycled through, Johnson remained out front. Kahne would battle back up to the lead and on lap 138, he regained the lead. The second yellow-flag of the day came out on lap 160 when Marcos Ambrose did a half-spin off of turn 4. The ensuing restart got dicey when Kyle Busch made it a three-wide battle for the lead up front and Busch eventually cleared the other cars to take his first lead of the day. Kahne once again made his way to the front just a few laps following Busch’s move for first place. Both Kahne and Busch swapped the lead again following the third caution of the day. Kahne and Busch had very strong cars throughout the day but, neither of them was able to seal the deal at the end of the race.

The caution that shook the field up came with 44 laps to go when David Reutimann had engine issues. That caution featured the final pit stops of the day for the leaders and the strategy call by Kenseth’s crew chief Jason Ratcliff of fuel only sent Kenseth to the lead on the ensuing restart. One more caution came out in the final 32 laps but, the most excitement came in the final ten laps when Kenseth and Kahne battled head-to-head for the win. Kahne was right on Kenseth’s tail throughout the final ten laps and Kahne had to deal with the lapped traffic which took away his chances of going low and attempting to pass Kenseth. Kahne had one more opportunity on the last lap but, Kenseth was too strong and he pulled away and took the checkered flag.

In only his third race with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth has found victory lane. This win was quite a remarkable feat for Kenseth who had an instant connection with his new team. Very rarely are we able to see a driver succeed with a new team in the beginning of the season but, Kenseth has done so. Winning this race is huge for Kenseth and his team and the momentum from this win should propel Kenseth forward in the next few months. Many more wins and a lot of success are in the future for Kenseth and today’s win just emphasized that even more. Kenseth will be a driver to watch for throughout the remainder of the season.

By Jason Schultz

Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER CAR MANUFACTURER

LAPS

MONEY

START

LED

PTS

BONUS

PENALTY

1 Matt Kenseth 20 Toyota

267

18

42

47

4

0

2 Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet

267

4

114

44

2

0

3 Brad Keselowski 2 Ford

267

1

12

42

1

0

4 Kyle Busch 18 Toyota

267

13

27

41

1

0

5 Carl Edwards 99 Ford

267

16

0

39

0

0

6 Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet

267

3

66

39

1

0

7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 Chevrolet

267

12

0

37

0

0

8 Martin Truex Jr. 56 Toyota

267

11

0

36

0

0

9 Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet

267

8

0

35

0

0

10 Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet

267

17

0

34

0

0

11 Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet

267

9

0

33

0

0

12 Joey Logano 22 Ford

267

21

0

32

0

0

13 Jamie McMurray 1 Chevrolet

267

23

2

32

1

0

14 Mark Martin 55 Toyota

267

15

0

30

0

0

15 Denny Hamlin 11 Toyota

267

6

3

30

1

0

16 Aric Almirola 43 Ford

267

22

0

28

0

0

17 Greg Biffle 16 Ford

267

5

0

27

0

0

18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17 Ford

267

7

1

27

1

0

19 Juan Pablo Montoya 42 Chevrolet

267

25

0

25

0

0

20 Kurt Busch 78 Chevrolet

266

24

0

24

0

0

21 Austin Dillon 51 Chevrolet

266

27

0

0

0

0

22 Marcos Ambrose 9 Ford

266

19

0

22

0

0

23 Trevor Bayne 21 Ford

266

36

0

0

0

0

24 Dave Blaney 7 Chevrolet

266

33

0

20

0

0

25 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet

266

10

0

19

0

0

26 Jeff Burton 31 Chevrolet

266

20

0

18

0

0

27 Clint Bowyer 15 Toyota

265

2

0

17

0

0

28 David Gilliland 38 Ford

265

31

0

16

0

0

29 Casey Mears 13 Ford

265

30

0

15

0

0

30 Bobby Labonte 47 Toyota

263

26

0

14

0

0

31 David Ragan 34 Ford

263

29

0

13

0

0

32 David Stremme 30 Toyota

261

38

0

12

0

0

33 Danica Patrick 10 Chevrolet

261

37

0

11

0

0

34 David Reutimann 83 Toyota

261

32

0

10

0

0

35 Josh Wise 35 Ford

260

43

0

0

0

0

36 J.J. Yeley 36 Chevrolet

259

35

0

8

0

0

37 Ken Schrader 32 Ford

258

34

0

7

0

0

38 Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet

234

14

0

6

0

0

39 Travis Kvapil 93 Toyota

217

28

0

5

0

0

40 Joe Nemechek 87 Toyota

216

42

0

0

0

0

41 Scott Speed 95 Ford

143

40

0

3

0

0

42 Landon Cassill 33 Chevrolet

66

41

0

2

0

0

43 Michael McDowell 98 Ford

21

39

0

1

0

0

 

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