NASCAR’s STP 400 in Kansas had an abundance of crashes and cautions while providing a thrilling duel at the end between winner Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
Kenseth and Kahne had to work very hard the final 20 laps, as the former battled to hold on to first and the latter nearly caught up at the finish line.
The action brought about some big changes in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson maintained his position as point leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after running third at Kansas Speedway. After coming in second for race eight in Kansas City, Kasey Kahne moved up five spots to take second place in the standings.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running up front near the end of the race when a pit stop and debris caution sent him more than a dozen positions backwards, but he moved up a spot to get back in the top five.
Kyle Busch probably wishes that NASCAR would remove Kansas Speedway from the schedule as his ill-handling car finally crashed and put him out of the race. Busch suffered the same fate with his Camping World Truck entry on Saturday. He also dropped out of the top five in NSCS points.
Martin Truex Jr. had another good finish at fourth and moved up five positions in the standings.
Select comments from Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. explain much about Kansas and moving on as well.
Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Chevrolet)
Kasey Kahne and team are having a great year and that may translate into being a top Chase contender.
"We were very close at the end, battling with Matt," Kahne said. "Felt like Vegas all over again, just kind of felt like really similar to that in how I could catch him but couldn't really do anything once I got close. It made my car a little bit looser. So I tried a few things there, and he kind of blocked those spots and went those directions and gained the speed that I (had), and then we were even again.
"It was tough, but we still had a great race."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and team have struggled for a few races, but they move back into the top five. A streak of good luck could lift them back to the top position.
“It’s just tough times. We’ve had poor luck; you can’t do much about that. We’ll just have to keep working. But the cars are fast. We know we can run well. I’m really happy about how the cars have been driving and the work we’ve been doing. I’m extremely happy with the engines today. The power in the car was just incredible.
“I’m just real happy with the speed. The car had a great engine. The car handled good. We did a good strategy. We just got bit by a caution there.”
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Kyle Busch and team have logged two wins already this season, but as in the past they seem to follow good results with poor finishes.
"Spun twice on our own," Busch said. "Just don't know what to do with Kansas. Yeah, absolutely no grip for me anyways. You're running third and doing fine, car a little tight and you spin out. I don't know what to do with that and then we're back in traffic all day.
"Traffic is way worse. Just trying to get back up to the front and making some gains, but car just snaps out from you every corner."
Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Toyota)
Matt Kenseth and team have two wins like Kyle Busch, but somehow Kenseth overcomes poor handling and crashes and gets better than expected results. Highly skilled drivers do that.
"It was kind of like musical chairs," Kenseth said. "You had to be out front when the music stopped. Our car was very fast in clean air. It was reasonable in dirty air, but it wasn't quite good enough to catch all them guys and pass 'em.
"Thankfully, I had a couple of really crazy-good restarts for some reason and made up some ground and got us back in position.
“We’ve been incredibly strong. It is kind of cliche, but I really feel like I’m living a dream -- this is a dream come true. This stuff -- every single track, we were a little off at California, but other than that we had cars I thought that if all the stars would have aligned then we could have won the race. We’ve been incredibly fast and I’m just so thankful to be wheeling them and glad we could hold on.”
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 56 Toyota)
Martin Truex Jr. was frustrated by second place after race seven at Texas, but that’s because he has memories of several seconds that he thought should be wins.
"I'm very happy with fourth place," Truex said. "I got a lot of questions this week about being second (at Texas) and how I seemed so disappointed and all that. Well, yeah, of course I was, under the circumstances.
"Today is a complete opposite. I'm very, very happy and excited about a fourth-place finish. It just depends on circumstances. It was a great day. We overcame a lot. The guys did an awesome job of bouncing back after that pit road problem we had. We had a great race car. We just needed a little bit."
After race eight, some drivers and teams move on with momentum, some lose steam and others seek remedies.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.