Matt Kenseth was not the dominate car, like his teammate Kyle Busch was, but did end up in victory lane after taking the lead with 13 laps left.
Busch had 265 of the 367 laps and put much of the field at least a lap down, after long green flag runs early, but the car went away from him late in the race, allowing Kenseth to escape with the win, his third this season, the most by any driver.
Kenseth was working without his normal Crew Chief Jason Ratcliff, who began serving his two race suspension due to failing post race inspection for his engine a few weeks ago in Kansas.
Busch would finish sixth. His troubles began with about 30 laps remaining when he was fending off a charge from Kasey Kahne. Kahne has slipped by Busch to take the lead, but appeared to lose control of his car and slammed into the outside wall. Kahne would wind up 17th on the day, and a bit upset that, for the third time this season, Busch has helped contribute to ending his day early.
Denny Hamlin, racing for the first time in weeks due to injury, ran the full race and came home in second. Jeff Gordon, who made his 700th start, finished third. Teammate Jimmie Johnson helped keep almost a full race lead in the season points with a fourth place finish and Kevin Harvick finished 5th.
Danica Patrick finished five laps down in 28th position, up three spots from her last year finish.
*** All-Star Time ***
The series takes a break from points running this weekend, but all eyes will be on Charlotte Motor Speedway for NASCARs version of an All-Star event. Here is a breakdown of understanding how this weekends races will be run.
First off, you need to make the race, how do you do that?
· Drivers who have won NASCAR Sprint Cup races in the current and preceding year. If a driver leaves a team with which he has won a race, he or she remains eligible (through the last race before the all-star race), however, the team does not
· Drivers who are past NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winners in the past 10 years
· Drivers who are past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions in the last 10 years
· The top two finishers in the Sprint Showdown, the 40-lap race that precedes the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
· The top Sprint Fan Vote driver whose car is in “raceable” condition as determined by the series director
The Sprint Fan Vote was just modified this week. In years previous, you had to finish on the lead lap of the showdown. This year you will not.
The Showdown will be 40 laps and has an entry list of 23 drivers. The top two finishers will advance.
The All-Star race will be five segments. Four 20 lap segments followed by a 10 lap shootout, with the winner taking home 1 million dollars.
Emphasis this year has been put on winning. After the first three 20 lap segments, there will be 5 caution laps, in which drivers can choose to pit or not. After the fourth 20 lap segment, drivers will be lined up based on their average finish in the first four segments. Once they are lined up, pit road will be open for a mandatory four tire change. Where the drivers come out from pit road is where they will start the final segment. Only green flag laps will be counted in the final segment. If a driver happens to win all 5 segments, they will win a million dollar bonus, doubling their winnings on the night.
Predictions: Chaos will beak lose in those final ten laps. When that happens, “Happy” Harvick seems to come to the front. I like him to win the money Saturday night. I think Kenseth could be dominate again, but it will all change in those final laps. In the showdown, I think Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex will advance. The Fan Vote will go to Danica Patrick, and while I think she will challenge for the win in the shootout, she might just play it safe knowing that she most likely will be racing in the big who regardless. Enjoy the race, this is always a good show.