Matt Kenseth was told to pit for fuel only with 25 laps remaining in the Quaker State 400, a choice Kenseth didn’t agree with.
Kenseth beat Jimmie Johnson out of the pits to take the lead, but thought there was no way he could hold off the dominant Johnson, who had led a race-high 182 laps. However, Johnson wrecked on the ensuing restart, giving Kenseth the lead for good, pulling away to win at Kentucky Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson dominated the race, but wrecked on a restart with 21 laps remaining. He was trying to hold off a hard-charging Joey Logano for second on the restart when he lost control of his car and spun.
Kenseth held off a challenge from Clint Bowyer on the final restart and pulled away for his series leading fourth win of the season.
Jamie McMurray passed Bowyer with four laps remaining to finish second. Bowyer finished third followed by Logano and Kyle Busch. Johnson rallied at the end to finish ninth after pitting following his spin.
The race was rained out Saturday night and forced teams to make major adjustments in switching from a night race to a noon Sunday start.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started on the pole, but he and Johnson both suffered damage to their cars early in the race from tire debris from Denny Hamlin’s car.
Johnson took the lead from Earnhardt on Lap 43 and took control of the race from there. He held a big lead and appeared headed for his fourth victory of the season until Brian Vickers crashed, bringing out a caution flag with 26 laps remaining.
Kenseth then took no tires while Johnson took two on the final pit stops, giving Kenseth the lead right before Johnson would wreck.
*** Daytona under the lights ***
One of my favorite races is always Daytona at night. You usually can toss all the names in the hat and have about the same chance as picking a winner as thinking through strategy. Dale Earnhardt Jr. always runs well at this track, and I think it’s about time he found victory lane again with a dominant performance. He actually leads all active drivers in average finish, with a 14th place average. Look for an exciting race, as some will drive with caution trying to hold onto those chase spots with just nine races remaining till the chase starts.