It was a grim day for many of the Chase for the Nextel Cup racers. Team Hendrick was the hardest hit with Jeff Gordon losing fuel pressure and Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch getting nailed for speeding on pit road (among other issues) robbing...
It was a grim day for many of the Chase for the Nextel Cup racers.
Team Hendrick was the hardest hit with Jeff Gordon losing fuel pressure and Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch getting nailed for speeding on pit road (among other issues) robbing them of top-5 finishes.
Fuel strategy at the end allowed Denny Hamlin who had nothing but problems all day to salvage a decent finish and move up two positions in the point standings. A late race spin while trying to get on pit road for gas cost Kasey Kahne a top-10. He slips to 10th overall.
Here's how the Top-10's day at Kansas shook out:
1 Jeff Burton (Finished 5th, 5,511): Burton had to stop with five to go to get gas but managed to work his way back to fifth place.
"I was afraid it was going to be worse than that," said Burton who also had to stop for gas late in the race. "I was afraid we were going to end up 14th or 15th, I hate those fuel mileage things. But my guys did a great job today.we had a good day today and ran well."
2. Denny Hamlin (Finished 18th, -69): Hamlin was caught speeding on pit road mid-race losing the No. 11 Chevrolet track position. He spun in turn four on lap-153; costing him more positions. A green flag stop for a vibration on lap 214 further ruined his day.
"It's a tough day for us," said Hamlin. "We had that loose wheel and it cost us a lot of points. Luckily, a lot of guys had to pit at the end."
3. Mark Martin (Finished 3rd, -70): Complained that it was the worse car he has ever driven but was able to fight back from a lap down to grab at top- five finish.
"They [the crew] just really worked hard, I'm proud of these guys," said Martin. "We're still in this thing and we're going to fight 'til the very end. It's all really hard, especially when we thought we might win and when we stepped back on it. It's a great effort by this Ford Fusion. What was going through your mind when everyone was running out of fuel on the last lap? "We didn't run out on the last lap, we starting sucking air, so we were okay."
4. Matt Kenseth (Finished 23rd, -84): Bad day for Kenseth all around. The car was never a threat for the win, but a spin on lap 145 ended his chances for a decent finish.
"I probably drove about 800 miles, but I don't know what we had wrong," Kenseth commented. "We obviously had something wrong. Yesterday, we really chased it all day and this was how bad we ran all day yesterday. I really don't know. They changed everything on it today. I'm just kind of dumbfounded. The car was real good in the tunnel and everything - it was aligned right - but it was so terribly loose all day. No matter what we changed, it didn't fix it. It was a struggle, but I'm real proud of my guys. They did a great job on pit road. I think they changed tires about 20 times and moved the rear end and set the toe in and did all kinds of stuff, so they did a great job. We just didn't have it. This is our Indy car. It's the only other place we ran it. We probably should have brought 'old reliable' but I don't know if we would have been any better with that. We were just terribly off all day."
5. Kevin Harvick (Finished 15, -96): Had to dash onto the grass on a lap-14 caution sending him to pit road and costing him valuable track position. He worked his way back to a top-15 result.
"It was kind of an interesting day," said 29 crew chief Todd Berrier. "We struggled a lot at the start of the race. We spun through the grass and lost all that track position so we didn't get after the car like we should have. I blame it more on track position, than anything else. He didn't hurt the car at all; it didn't get a mark on it. The pace was just so slow today, so much slower than it was yesterday. That was terrible. We had to change the right rear spring to stiffen it way up. We doubled the rate a bit, moved some stuff and changed a million things to get it better. Now what you want to do, but obviously we had to do it."
6. Jeff Gordon (Finished 39th, -120): Involved in a lap 14 accident that sent him spinning through the infield grass. He was forced to pit loosing track position. He worked his way back to the top-10 before his fuel pump issues ended his day with 25 laps to go.
"Very disappointing," said Gordon. "We know what those other guys feel like now at Hendrick Motorsports. We are just going to have to fight really hard. We lost the handling a little bit on the car, but we were still going to get a pretty decent finish. Then coming through turn three there the engine just cut off and I noticed there was no fuel pressure. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with it so we are done."
7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Finished 10th, -123): Led in the races early stages. He reported at times that there was smoke in the cockpit. An air pressure adjustment made the car too tight. He had to pit in the races final laps for fuel and tires.
"We were trying to be aggressive," Earnhardt said. "I was behind the 99 and the 20 and I thought they would come in for tires as well. So, I said let's come in early, I can pass them on the track, but they didn't come in so it didn't work out for us."
8. Jimmie Johnson (Finished 14th, -165) Led a race high 105 laps but had to make a late race stop for fuel that proved disastrous. On his first approach to pit road Kasey Kahne spun, Johnson jumped back on the track thinking the caution would come out when it didn't he finally stopped with three laps to go. He was scored too fast exiting pit road and had to make a stop and go penalty.
"Coming to pit road the 9 spun out in front of me," explained Johnson who wound up 14th. "I thought it would bring out the caution so I shot back onto the race track. The caution didn't come out so we lost much time there which took us out of position to win, and then I got a speeding violation on pit road."
9. Kyle Busch (Finished 7th, -233): It looked to finally be a good Chase race for the No. 5 team. He led 64 laps but a pit road speeding penalty on lap 199 slowed him. Luckily a lot of other racers had issues allowing him to grab his first top-10 in the Chase.
"We just picked our way through there steadily and easily," said Busch. "It was going to be a heck of a shoot out there at the end between me and Jimmie but it just didn't work out there. The pit road penalty killed us."
10. Kasey Kahne (Finished 33rd, -273): Sat on the pole and led 11 laps. He was set for a top-10 finish when he ran out of gas and spun on pit road with three to go.
"Up and down," said Kahne of his day. "When we started off I thought we had a great car and it just sort of got away from us. We got really tight and didn't turn then we tried gambling on fuel mileage and I don't know if it wasn't topped off but we missed it by a ways."