The Chase for the Championship continued this weekend at Kansas, for the third of 10 races in the Chase. With Greg Biffle winning the first two Chase races, he had the momentum on his side rolling into Kansas, where he also won last season on fuel strategy.
Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position with Mark Martin along side in second. These two have started first and second three times so far this season, with Johnson having the pole each time.
As the green flag waved to start the race, a black flag also waved for Chase contender Clint Bowyer, who passed a car before the start/finish line. The rule is that you can not pass a car at the start of the race before the start/finish line, so Bowyer had to come down pit road for a pass-through penalty.
This put Bowyer way behind the rest of the field and in a huge hole early. However, Bowyer would manage to stay on the lead lap and have a strong showing throughout the afternoon.
Johnson ended up leading the first 16 laps of the race before fellow Chaser Matt Kenseth passed him for the lead.
Kenseth would hold the lead for a good number of laps before Martin Truex Jr. passed him on lap 42 to become the new leader. Truex would continue to lead as the first round of green flag pit stops began around lap 50.
During the green flag stops, Michael Waltrip and Kyle Busch managed to lead a lap and earn five bonus points before making their pit stops. After the stops had cycled through, Kenseth had taken over the lead from Truex.
Kenseth would remain out front when the first caution flag of the race came out for Ryan Newman hitting the wall on lap 75. Before the caution came out, Kyle Busch had been complaining about his car being low on power.
Busch had thought that he was losing his engine when all along there had been something lodged in the engine causing the car to lose speed.
Busch would have problems all day long and have another bad race finishing one lap down behind the leader in 28th position. I believe that we can now officially count Busch out for the championship after having three bad races in a row.
During the caution, the leaders all came down pit road with Kenseth holding onto the lead. Unfortunately for Kenseth, he had a missing lug nut on one of his tires and had to come back down pit road to replace it. This would hand the lead over to Casey Mears for the first time in the race.
Mears stayed at the front of the field as the leader when the second caution came out for a spin by Kyle Petty on lap 94. Since it had been a good 20 laps since the last time the leaders had hit pit road, they took advantage by heading to the pits for some fresh tires and fuel.
Martin ended up coming out first with the help of a two-tire stop, but Mears had decided to stay out under the caution and continued to lead.
After the restart waved, Mears would hold the lead for about ten laps before Johnson passed him on lap 107. Shortly after Johnson regained the lead, the caution flag waved again after Joey Logano, who was making his second career Sprint Cup start, hit the wall. The leaders would hit pit road with Truex coming out first with a two-tire stop.
Truex would remain at the head of the field as two caution flags waved within a few laps of each other. The first caution period was for a spin by Chase contender, Matt Kenseth on lap 123.
Kenseth suffered no damaged after the spin and continued on. The second caution waved for a spin by another Chase contender Tony Stewart on lap 130. Stewart would not be as lucky as Kenseth, going six laps down making repairs to the cars front valence.
After the restart, Johnson made quick work of Truex, taking the lead on lap 137. Johnson would hold the lead until green flag pit stops began around lap 175. During the green flag stops, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers, David Reutimann, and Patrick Carpentier all took turns leading before making their pit stops.
After the pit stops had cycled through, Johnson was back out front. His lead would be short lived though as Edwards passed Johnson for the top spot on lap 190.
Edwards would remain at the front of the field when another caution waved for Travis Kvapil hitting the wall on lap 217. The leaders would hit pit road once more with Johnson edging Edwards out for the lead.
Shortly after the race resumed, the seventh and final caution flag of the race came out for a spin by Michael Waltrip and Sam Hornish. This would set up for a duel between Chase contenders Johnson and Edwards to decide who would be the points leader heading into Talladega next week.
Johnson would hold about a second lead over Edwards until the last few laps of the race. Edwards began to chip into Johnson’s lead piece by piece until he was right up on Johnson’s rear bumper.
Johnson managed to hold Edwards off until the last lap, when Edwards drove his car hard into turns three and four, passing Johnson for a mere moment until he hit the wall, allowing Jimmie to squeak right by and take the victory.
In the post-race interview, Edwards said that he knew he was going to hit the wall but he thought he could get back on the accelerator and hold off Johnson for the win.
Unfortunately for Edwards, it did not work out that way and Johnson, with the victory, becomes the new point leader.
The top ten finishers were Johnson, Edwards, Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, David Ragan, A.J. Allmendinger, and Elliott Sadler.
Some notable finishes include Denny Hamlin in 11th, Clint Bowyer in 12th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 13th, Casey Mears in 14th, Brian Vickers in 15th, Kyle Busch in 28th, and Tony Stewart in 40th position.
The top 12 in points shake out like this:
- Jimmie Johnson
- Carl Edwards
- Greg Biffle
- Jeff Burton
- Kevin Harvick
- Jeff Gordon
- Clint Bowyer
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Denny Hamlin
- Tony Stewart
- Kyle Busch
Kansas is now in the rear view mirror, with Talladega upcoming next week.