Matt Kenseth outran a hard charging Kasey Kahne to win Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth drove his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to his second victory of the season and 26th of his Sprint Cup career in Sunday’s eighth race of the season.
“I really thought he had me, my car was getting really loose,” said Kenseth who led 163 of the 267 laps. “… This is a dream come true to drive this stuff. This is awesome.”
Kenseth became the third straight pole winner the first time that has happened since 1985.
“It was kind of like musical chairs," Kenseth said about staying in front of the field for the advantage. "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 (in traffic).
"Thankfully, I had a couple of really crazy-good restarts for some reason and made up some ground and got us back in position."
Kenseth, who made the move to Joe Gibbs Racing at the start of the season after spending his entire Sprint Cup career with Roush Fenway Racing, has made himself at home in a short period of time.
"This is a dream come true to drive this car," Kenseth said. "This car has been incredibly fast all season. These guys are contenders. I'm glad to be wheeling this thing."
Kahne wound up finishing second .150-seconds behind Kenseth.
“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,” said Kahne, who tried to chase Kenseth for the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month.
“It made my car a little bit looser. So tried a few things there, and he kind of blocked those spots and went those directions and gained the speed that I was, and then we were even again. It was tough, but we still had a great race.”
Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
“A strong performance, solid on pit road,” said Johnson. “I think Chad's strategy today was flawless. About two stops from the end we started to get a little tight, and it was the first time I was tight so we probably didn't react as much as we should have, just trying to be cautious because the car was so loose at other times in the race, and just lacked a little bit there at the end.”
Brad Keselowski, who battled an assortment of problems including a fuel pick-up issue and the shredding of sheet metal, rallied back to finish sixth.
“Usually, you’re not happy unless you win, but a day where you can fight through adversity like we did today and get a solid finish, that kind of is a win, yes,” said Keselowski.
Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Mark Martin and Paul Menard completed the first ten finishers.
The complexion of the race changed dramatically on a late race caution with 50 laps to go. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was leading the race but was when caught on pit road when a the yellow flew along with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards. The trio had to give up their spots and wound up at the end of the lead lap when the unfortunate caution came out.
There were 13 lead changes among eight different drivers. The race was slowed by eight cautions for 40 laps including a hard crash between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano on lap 102.
Busch, driving a back-up car after a Friday practice accident, spun racing off turn four and was collected by Logano who had nowhere to go.
“I watched the 18,” Logano explained. “He was spinning out and I saw it the whole time. I saw he got loose and thought, ‘OK, he’s gonna come back across,’ and he didn’t.
"It looked like he was gonna stay up there because he kind of slapped the wall with the right side after he hit it the first time, so I’m like, ‘All right, I’m gonna gun it and get by him here,’ and as soon as I committed to that I saw him start coming back down. At that point you’re just lined up to him and hit him a ton.”
Marcos Ambrose spun on lap 182 that set off a chain reaction incident that included Sam Hornish Jr., Casey Mears and Danica Patrick before it was over.
“I’m just disappointed,” said Ambrose. “We had a good car and were running around the top-10 all day and when the sun came out it changed. I didn’t expect it and spun out off of two and got some damage.”
Johnson leads the point standings by 37 over Kahne with Keselowski, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. the first five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Richmond Int’l Raceway this Saturday night, April 27th.