Six races down. Four to go. In just a few weeks NASCAR will crown a new Sprint Cup Series champ. Seems just the other day we were all counting down the days until the Daytona 500. This season has sure flown by.
On Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made a stop at the newly paved Kansas Speedway. The winner was Matt Kenseth, who beat the second place finisher, by 0.495 seconds amidst a record-breaking 14 cautions. The win was Kenseth’s third of the season and second in three weeks. Kenseth, who will be leaving Roush-Fenway Racing at season’s end, definitely isn’t a lame duck in the Chase. Like much of the finishers, Kenseth definitely had a bumps and bruises on his No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion. Kenseth brushed the wall after Aric Almirola spun off turn two, trying to pass Mark Martin.
With the win, Kenseth jumped two spots to ninth and now is just 55 points behind Keselowski. Speaking of the Miller Lite Dodge, the driver didn’t lead any laps on Sunday but still left the 1.50 mile tri-oval with a seven points lead over Jimmie Johnson.
In this weekly segment, Total Sports Blog, will rewind the race from the day before and let you know where all the Chase contende
rs finished and where they are in the point standings.
Brad Keselowski: It was an interesting day for the Sprint Cup Series points leader, who dodged accident after accident to hang on to finish eighth. He came into Sunday’s race with a seven-point lead and left with the same lead.
Jimmie Johnson: While Johnson led 44 laps early in the race, he didn’t have the same luck as the guy he is chasing for the title. Shortly after the third caution for debris, Johnson would become caution number 4 as he hit the wall after a spin. It was his crew chief that made the call of the race for the Lowe’s Racing team, who instead of having Johnson make the hard left into the garage, he decided to get a look at the car and fix it on pit road. Johnson would finish in ninth, one spot behind the points leader. He is seven points out of first.
Denny Hamlin: While he may have crashed the car he wanted to use on Sunday, Thursday during a testing session at the track, his backup car was just as good, or so Hamlin thought. While Hamlin avoided the wrecks, he still experienced his share of bad luck. Twice Hamlin was trapped a lap down when cautions interrupted green-flag pit stops and for most of his runs, Hamlin was forced to conserve fuel. Despite the luck, Hamlin still finished 13th to remain third in the standings, but he did lose five points and is now down 20 to Keselowski.
Clint Bowyer: Last week’s winner led twice for a total of five laps on Sunday, but that just wasn’t enough. Bowyer would finish sixth after starting third, but ran at the front throughout the race. The finish was Bowyer’s 20th top-10 finish of the season. Bowyer is fourth in the Chase just 25 points out of first.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne started Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 from the pole position, his first at the track, and immediately had handling issues. Kahne was one of a few drivers it seems that wasn’t involved in any cautions. Kahne would finish the race in fourth position and is still in fifth place, just 30 points behind Keselowski.
Martin Truex, Jr: Truex finished second in Sunday’s race, his second straight runner-up finish at the track. He started 16th and quikcly chaged to the front but led no laps. Truex moved up one spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to sixth, 43 points out of first.
Tony Stewart: The 2011 Sprint Cup Series champ had a race to remember. He overcame a spin during the race and a pit road penalty for leaving his stall with equipment still attached to his car to finish fifth. The finish helped him gain one spot in the Chase to seventh, just 47 points behind Keselowski.
Jeff Gordon: Gordon is another driver to gained a spot in the Chase. While Gordon was improving his track position, he immediately came on the radio asking the team to check the front of his No. 24. On the ensuring pit stop, it was discovered that Gordon had actually cut a tire. Talk about luck! Gordon would lead twice for two laps during the race and would finish tenth. He is now 51 points out of first.
Kevin Harvick: It was a quiet day for the driver of the Budweiser Chevrolet. Harvick would finish on Sunday in eleventh place and is still in tenth place in the point standings, 59 points back.
Greg Biffle: While his teammate was the winner of the race, the driver of the No. 16 was definitely on the other side. Biffle was headed for a top-five finish in the closing stages of Sunday’s race, but the No. 16 Ford lost grip in the groove and slammed the outside wall. The crash caused extensive damage to Biffle’s car and put his changes to finish the race on a high now on ice. Biffle would finish 27th and tumbling five spots in the Chase standings to 11th and eliminating his chances for a championship in 2012.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr: Did not compete but definitely made the race broadcast today in a blunder of events from his team owner, Rick Hendrick. Before the race, it was announced by Hendrick that Junior had already been cleared to race at Martinsville next Sunday; however, in a mid-race press conference, Hendrick had to clarify his remarks saying that NASCAR’s most popular driver still needed to pass a test in the No. 88 and then see his neurosurgeon, Dr. Jerry Petty, prior to being cleared. Junior, who is mathematically eliminated from winning the championship this season, is now 122 points behind Keselowski.
The next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is next Sunday, October 28th, at Martinsville Speedway.