It's fitting that the Kobalt Tools 400 was run in Las Vegas because the entire race was a crap shoot.
The lead was exchanged quite often, with four drivers all leading at least a lap. The top five or so drivers were constantly exchanging positions.
In the end, it was the perfect birthday present for Matt Kenseth. He finished ahead of Kasey Kahne to pick up his third win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It looked like he might have a hard time holding off Kahne as the race drew to a close. He was feverishly imploring his spotter to help clear out some of the lapped cars to open up as big a lane as possible.
While Kenseth only led 40 of the 267 laps, he proved the most adept at using his pit stops. Late in the race, his pit crew chose not to put new tires on, thus getting him out pit road faster. You would have thought that having old tires on a loose track would spell trouble for him, but Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne, who had much fresher tires.
The win is a real testament to the skill that Kenseth showed late in the race, and he's a well deserving winner.
For Kahne, the result is a bit encouraging, yet a disappointment at the same time as he led the most laps, at 114. He has always struggled in Las Vegas, so a runner-up finish should still be considered a nice achievement for Kahne.
Brad Keselowski, who finished in third place, did a great job of overcoming some problems in the pits. He ended up leading 16 laps and was right there with the leader for much of the race.
Tony Stewart came in having led more laps than any other driver over the last two years. He won in 2012 and finished second in 2011. He went a lap down and never managed to get back in the race, eventually finishing 11th.
Stewart was one of many drivers who really struggled with a loose car for much of the race. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth were some of the other big names who had quite a few problems handling their cars on the turns. Only 19 drivers of the 43 in the race managed to finish on the lead lap.
The race started rather uneventfully when compared to the crashes in previous years. Drivers went 66 laps without seeing a yellow flag. It's the longest a race has started green at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway since the track was reconfigured in 2007. As the event went on, it was much of the same story, as only five cautions were issued and there weren't any major crashes.
Here's how the leaderboard looked.
|1.|| Matt Kenseth
|2.|| Kasey Kahne
|3.|| Brad Keselowski
|4.|| Kyle Busch
|5.|| Carl Edwards
|6.|| Jimmie Johnson
|7.|| Dale Earnhardt Jr.
|8.|| Martin Truex Jr.
|9.|| Kevin Harvick
|10.|| Paul Menard
Farmers Racing noted how Kasey Kahne's performance should be very encouraging considering his performances in previous years:
Awesome stat! @kaseykahne has led more today than all of his previous Vegas Cup races combined!— Farmers Racing (@FarmersRacing) March 10, 2013
Kahne had been running very strong for much of the race. As Jeff Gluck of USA Today pointed out, it was a pit stop that looked like it might doom the driver:
Last pit stops? Race off pit road: Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson. Kahne got boxed in by Stewart or something, I think. Lost five spots.— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 10, 2013
Gluck was also right on top of it by quoting Jeff Gordon's car problems. His sentiments echo quite a few of the drivers' issues:
Jeff Gordon: "We're f------ WAY off. We're good for three laps and then we're right back to the same stuff: Loose, loose, loose." #NASCAR— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 10, 2013
Orange Cone was a bit cynical toward Danica Patrick and the attention she receives before races. While a bit harsh, it was a pretty succinct summary of Patrick's performance:
"Danica leads the way into Las Vegas" really means "Danica will lead all drivers in the amount of times getting lapped."— Orange Cone (@TheOrangeCone) March 10, 2013
Matt Willis pointed out how rare it has been that a driver wins on his birthday:
Only 2 drivers have won a Cup race on their birthday. Cale Yarborough (twice) and Kyle Busch. Matt Kenseth could be the 3rd. #NASCAR— Matt Willis (@MattWillisESPN) March 10, 2013
Joe Gibbs Racing offered some congratulations for its conquering driver:
The next race is next Sunday, March 17, at 1 p.m. ET as drivers will descend on the Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500.