Matt Kenseth's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was a mainstay up front in the first 100-plus laps of the STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He fell back a few positions on pit strategy but was back up front at the end and went on to claim his second win of the season. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne was unable to catch Kenseth in the closing laps and had to settle for runner-up honors.
"I really thought he (Kahne) had me," Kenseth said. "My car was really getting loose in (turn) three."
Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Chevrolet, finished third.
"I drove right up through the field and got to the front and at times felt like my Kobalt Tools Chevrolet to win," Johnson said. "The last two runs we were a little too tight but other than that, a really strong performance with a car that drove through traffic, which is hard to do in today’s world of racing. So happy to be able to do that.”
Kenseth led 110 of the first 111 laps of the 267-lap race. The other lap was led by the No. 30 Swan Racing Toyota of David Stremme during a caution. Kenseth gave up the lead to head down pit road during a caution on lap 111. The No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray, the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Mark Martin and the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Keselowski stayed out during the caution to restart the race in the first two rows.
Those drivers who stayed out were forced to head down pit road under green around lap 147, but those who did pit headed down pit road, also under green, a few laps later. Truex, Johnson, the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford of Carl Edwards each spent some time up front before Kenseth retook the lead with about 50 laps remaining.
After a caution with about 50 laps to go, Kenseth restarted the race in the lead, with Truex in second and Johnson in third. Kahne quickly got by Truex and Johnson to move into the second spot.
“I needed clouds. We tightened up a little bit on that final run and putting two on, and zero, I knew we were going to be a little loose but didn’t think it would be quite that bad," Kahne said of his inability to catch Kenseth in the closing laps. "Matt was fast and I just did everything I could and he would go to those spots and I couldn’t make any ground."
Truex wound up finishing fourth, and Clint Bowyer was fifth in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. Keselowski finished sixth after going down a lap early in the race when his team had to make repairs to his car because of significant damage sustained during the early laps of the event.
"It's not a win, but when you go through everything we did today, it feels like it," Keselowski said.
McMurray finished seventh, Aric Almirola was eighth in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Mark Martin finished ninth, and Paul Menard was 10th in the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.