Matt Kenseth apparently has Kansas Speedway figured out. Kenseth captured his second straight race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, holding off Kasey Kahne to become the third straight polesitter to find Victory Lane. The last time three straight winners came from the pole was in 1985, when Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Sr. combined to do it at Michigan, Bristol and Darlington.
Kenseth called it a "dream come true" when he held off Kahne to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with Joe Gibbs Racing last month at Las Vegas. He enjoyed a sense of deja vu on Sunday, beating Kahne again to win his second race of the season.
“We had a good car,” said Kenseth. “Everything worked out at the end. We were in the front for that last pit stop and able to hold station there and get out in clean air, so that was the key.”
Kahne challenged Kenseth over the closing laps, pulling to his inside with two laps to go, but could not catch him on the final lap. Kenseth and Kahne also finished 1-2 last month at Las Vegas.
"Matt was fast. I did everything I could," Kahne said.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship leader, Jimmie Johnson, finished third. Johnson said he lacked speed in qualifying and practice but had what he needed for the race.
“Our car was comfortable over the long haul, and we just kind of waited and hoped that it would come to a balance,” Johnson said. “And I felt the racecar would be there come race time, and it was. A strong performance, solid on pit road.”
Johnson leaves Kansas with a 37 point lead over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kahne. Brad Keselowski sits third in points, one point back of Kahne. Kenseth is currently eighth in points, 59 behind Johnson. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
Keselowski rallied from an early collision and a penalty to finish sixth with most of the sheet metal ripped from the back of his car. He scored a top-10 finish four days after he and his Penske Racing team were hit with major penalties for a technical violation last week at Texas.
Keselowski and several other drivers carried decals on their cars honoring the victims and heroes of last week's Boston Marathon bombings.
"We've got BostonStrong on the back of the car, and that is good inspiration for this weekend," Keselowski said. "It was just a gritty effort by the 2 team. You're usually not happy unless you win, but when you have all the trouble we had today, to come back with a sixth, it feels like one."
Keselowski slipped to fourth in points this week after the 25-point penalty, but climbed back to third, followed by Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Busch and Kenseth.
Kyle Busch’s hot streak ended when he spun and crashed on Lap 102 and collided with Joey Logano.
It marked the third wreck of the weekend for Busch, who had won two of the past three Cup races and entered the race with five straight top-five finishes. Busch simply couldn’t get a handle on Kansas, one of his worst tracks.
“Just spun out twice all on our own,” Busch said. “I just don’t know what to do at Kansas… The car just snapped out from under me in every corner.”
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 27 (6:30 p.m. EST, FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90)—Race 9 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 15-17). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series Championship. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
Tickets for NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 15-17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale to the general public on May 1.