It was all Joe Nemechek this weekend at Kansas Speedway: after a controversial win Saturday in the Busch series event, Nemechek backed up his stats at Kansas with a win from the pole in the NEXTEL Cup series 400-miler. "Incredible, incredible ...
It was all Joe Nemechek this weekend at Kansas Speedway: after a controversial win Saturday in the Busch series event, Nemechek backed up his stats at Kansas with a win from the pole in the NEXTEL Cup series 400-miler.
"Incredible, incredible day," said Nemechek who reclaimed the race lead for the final time at lap 255. "This is cool, the sweep at Kansas, who would have ever figured. I tried to save gas there at the end, I was a little bit tight but I drove to the lead. Then there at the end I was trying to save gas, and there came Ricky Rudd, and I was like 'holy moly', then I had to get back on it.
"He got up beside me once, but I wasn't going to let it happen. I came too close yesterday. This is just an incredible day."
A series of late race cautions saw all the hard fought pit strategy of the day pretty much go out the window. Pole sitter Joe Nemechek found the front of the field and had pulled out to a two-second lead over the grid, when the No. 31 of Robby Gordon spun, bringing out the yellow with 17 laps left to be completed.
On the restart at lap 255, Nemechek continued to lead but was being stalked by the Yates powered second and third place cars of Ricky Rudd and Elliott Sadler. With two laps to go, Rudd moved within a bumper of Nemechek as the two came down the line side-by-side with one lap to go.
In the end, Rudd didn't have enough to get by the No. 01 Chevy as Nemechek grabbed his first Cup series win since May of 2003.
Ricky Rudd brought the No. 21 Woods Brothers Ford home second, marking his first top five of the season.
"We had a great race car," said Rudd. "We just needed a few more laps."
Greg Biffle who led much of the day, and looked in contention to win, scored third.
"We had a great car today," Biffle said. "We just lost track position there on fuel mileage. It's unfortunate, we had a great run."
Elliott Sadler and Jeremy Mayfield complete the top five.
"I had a lot of fun racing Ricky and that old 21 car," Sadler said. "That was pretty cool. I let him go there at the end and wanted him to get that 01 car. That would have been cool for the Wood Brothers, but it was a great, great run for all of us. I'm really proud of my guys and we'll go to Charlotte."
Point leader Kurt Busch's strong sixth place result helps him retain his lead in championship standings.
"We came and tested and it just didn't turn out to be our day," said Busch. "The car was just very nervous in traffic, by ourselves it was fine. But, when we were out in traffic we just couldn't negotiate the corners the same way when we were out in free air."
He now leads Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 29 points. Jeff Gordon (-79), Elliott Sadler (-143), Mark Martin (-150), Tony Stewart (-173), Matt Kenseth (- 180), Ryan Newman (-232), Jimmie Johnson (-247) and Jeremy Mayfield (-257) complete the top ten contenders in the 'chase for the NEXTEL Cup'.
Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman both had an awful day as they saw their championship bids dry up at Kansas Speedway. Both were involved in wrecks that sent their rides behind the wall and dropped them even further down the rankings chart. In contrast, Elliott Sadler rebounded from a horrible two weeks, grabbing back four spots in the 'chase for the championship'.