Kenseth pulls down the win in California

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Kenseth pulls down the win in California

Matt Kenseth wheeled the No. 17 Roush Racing Ford into Victory Lane as he won his 11th NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win race. Kenseth led 40 of 251 laps to garner his first victory on the California Speedway oval. Matt Kenseth. Photo by...

Matt Kenseth wheeled the No. 17 Roush Racing Ford into Victory Lane as he won his 11th NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win race. Kenseth led 40 of 251 laps to garner his first victory on the California Speedway oval.

Matt Kenseth.
Photo by Kurt Dahlstrom.
Kenseth was one of the front runners most of the event battling for position with Tony Stewart and Roush teammate Greg Biffle, but when both of those cars fell out of the race with engine troubles, it appeared like it was clear sailing for the No. 17 Ford.

A late race caution, however, with three to go set up a green/white/checker a final fight for the win between the top two cars: Kenseth and the Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson.

On the restart, Kenseth was hotly pursued by the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy of Johnson but Kenseth blocked his advances to earn Roush Racing their third win at the speedway this weekend: Mark Martin won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night and Biffle scored yesterday's Busch Series race.

"We had a great handling car," said Kenseth who came from 31st to win. "We have a great pit crew. These guys did a great job.we have great people and a lot of loyal people who want to work hard and win. I feel very blessed."

Johnson settled for second, "I can't tell you how proud I am of this race team. These guy continue to work there butts off and make the best of a bad situation. They just continue to battle back from adversity.

Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
Photo by Getty Images.
Roush Racing's Carl Edwards snuck past Kasey Kahne on the last lap for third. "This was paramount," he said. "This was exactly what we needed; we had a good safe day and didn't wreck anything, just a fun day.

"I had a blast, if anything Daytona was a motivator to wake up Monday 43rd in points and realize 'hey we gotta do this' - that is a motivator," added Edwards.

Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton complete the top five.

"We had a fast car on the track but we stopped and put on tires and we got too tight," said Burton. "On long runs we were really good. It was a solid day for us. We were our best when it counted and that is a good thing."

Stewart's and Biffle's engine troubles were rare for both of the top contenders. The defending Nextel Cup champion has not had a DNF since Texas last year. Today, Stewart placed 43rd, dropping him to 22nd in the points.

Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.
Photo by Getty Images.
"We had a fast race car and that is real encouraging for the rest of the year," said Stewart. "I don't think we had anything for Biffle anyway, maybe if we had one more shot we could have stayed with him."

For Biffle, who led a race high 168 laps, lost an engine late in the race and finished 42nd, he now sits 38th in the points.

"We didn't have a failure all season last year," said Biffle. "We are making more and more power. We had a great car today, I think we might have been better than the 17th but now we will never know."

There were seven cautions for 26 laps and nine lead changes among 18 drivers.

Johnson continues to lead the 2006 Nextel Cup point standings. Casey Mears, Kenseth, Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler complete the top ten.

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Series NASCAR-CUP