Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Kenseth wins Sprint Cup race at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Matt Kenseth has changed teams, but he still owns the newly paved Kansas Speedway.

Kenseth, now driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, won NASCAR Sprint Cup's STP 400 on Sunday, six months after he won last season's first race on the new surface for Roush Fenway Racing.

Kenseth led 110 of the first 111 laps, then later retook the lead with 50 laps to go before holding off Kasey Kahne to become the third straight Cup driver to win from the pole.

Kyle Busch won from up front last weekend at Texas, and Jimmie Johnson did the same the previous weekend at Martinsville.

"The fastest car is supposed to win, right? That's what racing is about," said Kenseth, who got his second win of the season and the 26th of his career. "I think it's a little bit of a coincidence the way things worked out."

When a caution flag came out with several leaders on pit road, Kenseth found himself leading the pack into the pits. He won the race out after taking two tires on his No. 20 Toyota.

"We were in front for the last pit stop, and that was the key," Kenseth said.

Kahne eventually worked his way up and pulled alongside the leader entering Turn 4 with the white flag out, but Kenseth went back ahead in the front stretch.

"When it was in front, we knew it was really fast," Kenseth said. "And if we could get out there first, we'd be tough to beat."

The last time three straight winners came from the pole was in 1985, when Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt combined to do it at Michigan, Bristol and Darlington.

Points leader Johnson finished third with a car that got better during long green-flag runs.

Brad Keselowski put a positive spin on an ugly week for Penske Racing. Last season's Cup champion sustained damage to the rear of his car early and fell a lap down. The damage worsened as the laps ticked along, and eventually a huge piece of his rear end ripped off. The No. 2 team fixed it up enough for him to finish sixth.

Penske Racing is appealing heavy NASCAR sanctions after an unapproved rear-end housing was found on its two cars last weekend. The penalties include six-race suspensions for seven crew members, including the crew chiefs for Keselowski and Joey Logano; $200,000 in fines, and 25-point penalties.

"Usually you're not happy unless you win," Keselowski said, "but you know, a day where you can fight through adversity like we did and get a solid finish, that kind of is a win."

Logano did not find the day so satisfying.

Busch was running 22nd when he slid up the track, turned sideways and headed for the apron. He hit Logano nose to nose.

"What was going through my mind? 'This is going to hurt,' " said Logano, who saw it coming.

Asked if he was okay, Busch radioed back, "Kansas, right?"

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