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Kenseth holds off Kahne in Las Vegas

Third win at Las Vegas comes on Kenseth's 41st birthday
Sunday, March 10, 2013

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Matt Kenseth celebrates
Getty Images for NASCAR
Matt Happy birthday, Matt Kenseth!

Kenseth held off Kasey Kahne in a 26-lap green-flag run to the finish Sunday to win the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In winning the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of his career, Kenseth, who turned 41 Sunday, became the third driver in series history to win on his birthday, joining Cale Yarborough and Kyle Busch in that exclusive club.

Kenseth crossed the finish line .594 seconds ahead of Kahne, who led a race-high 114 laps. Defending series champion Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard completed the top 10.

Johnson leaves Las Vegas as the series leader, five points ahead of Keselowski and 10 ahead of third-place Earnhardt.

The victory was Kenseth’s first in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry after an offseason move from Roush Fenway Racing. It was also Toyota’s 50th triumph in the Cup series.

"I’m not a goal person, but my goal was to win and win early," said Kenseth, who visited Victory Lane in his third start with JGR. "Nobody put any pressure on me except for myself, but I also know that Coach (Joe Gibbs) hired me to come here and climb in the car and win races. You certainly want to do that—you don’t want to disappoint people…

"It’s still only week three, but I feel like this is the beginning."

Both Busch and Keselowski overcame issues on pit road to post their top-five finishes—Busch an early speeding penalty and Keselowski a dropped lug nut that cost him 10 positions during pit stops under caution on Lap 161.

The rally from the mistake left Keselowski ambivalent about the result. He was happy with the third-place finish but felt his car was capable of more.

"Yeah, I want to win," said Keselowski who finished fourth in the first two events of the season, at Daytona and Phoenix. "It’s a different perspective, because I'm not happy with top 5s--I want to win. The last three weeks, really the last two weeks--and I'm sure when I get home tonight I'm going to go home and throw around some pillows and punch some things--because we've had a shot at winning all three races and come up short, whether it's circumstances or bad luck or, today, just a little bit of execution.

"In retrospect, once you get a day to cool off from it, you say, ‘Wow, that's really good, three top 5s; that's how I'd have wanted to start the year.’  But with the way I finished last year, I wanted to win. I wanted to win all three of these races, and I'm not happy unless we can do that."

Kahne said Kenseth raced mistake-free in the closing run, despite having older tires.

"I was like, ‘Man, this is not the guy you want to have to race with 10 to go because, he's going to do everything right,’" Kahne said. "You're going to have to figure out how to squeeze by him. And you know he had a fast car, too, so it was difficult.

"He did a perfect job, and we came back second, but still a good run. I think we were seventh maybe after that one restart (actually sixth for a restart on Lap 231) and fought back to second, so we had a great car, did everything right. We just didn't quite get there."

Kahne had opened a lead of more than two seconds over Johnson when the engine in Travis Kvapil’s Toyota exploded in Turn 4, trailing smoke and dropping oil on the track.

During pit stops under caution on Lap 226 of 267, Kenseth and Keselowski opted for fuel only and left pit road 1-2, with Johnson, Edwards, Earnhardt and Kahne—all of whom took two tires—trailing behind them.

Kahne lost five spots in the pits after his egress from his pit stall was blocked by Tony Stewart, who had to slow down on the way to his pit box to avoid Kenseth, who was leaving after the fuel-only stop.

Kahne got two spots back after the restart on Lap 231, but his progress was interrupted on Lap 235 when Ryan Newman’s Chevrolet blew its engine on Lap 235.

After the subsequent yellow, Kahne restarted fourth on Lap 242. Kenseth kept the No. 5 Chevrolet at bay the rest of the way.

Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts Status
1 18 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 267 47 Running
2 4 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 267 44 Running
3 1 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 267 42 Running
4 13 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 267 41 Running
5 16 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 267 39 Running
6 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 267 39 Running
7 12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy Orange Chevrolet 267 37 Running
8 11 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 267 36 Running
9 8 29 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet 267 35 Running
10 17 27 Paul Menard Menards / Schrock Chevrolet 267 34 Running
11 9 14 Tony Stewart MOBIL 1 Racing / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 267 33 Running
12 21 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 267 32 Running
13 23 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 267 32 Running
14 15 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 267 30 Running
15 6 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 267 30 Running
16 22 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 267 28 Running
17 5 16 Greg Biffle American Red Cross / 3M Ford 267 27 Running
18 7 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # Zest Ford 267 27 Running
19 25 42 Juan Pablo Montoya AXE Apollo Chevrolet 267 25 Running
20 24 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing / Serta Chevrolet 266 24 Running
21 27 51 Austin Dillon(i) Tag Heuer Chevrolet 266 0 Running
22 19 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 266 22 Running
23 36 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 266 0 Running
24 33 7 Dave Blaney SANY Chevrolet 266 20 Running
25 10 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 266 19 Running
26 20 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 266 18 Running
27 2 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 265 17 Running
28 31 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford 265 16 Running
29 30 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 265 15 Running
30 26 47 Bobby Labonte Kingsford Toyota 263 14 Running
31 29 34 David Ragan Ford 263 13 Running
32 38 30 David Stremme MGM Grand, Las Vegas / Lean1 Toyota 261 12 Running
33 37 10 Danica Patrick # GoDaddy Racing Chevrolet 261 11 Running
34 32 83 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota 261 10 Running
35 43 35 Josh Wise(i) MDS Transport / Riviera Hotel & Casino Ford 260 0 Running
36 35 36 JJ Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 259 8 Running
37 34 32 Ken Schrader Federated Auto Parts Ford 258 7 Running
38 14 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 234 6 Engine
39 28 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota 217 5 Engine
40 42 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Maddie'sPlaceRocks.com Toyota 216 0 Running
41 40 95 Scott Speed Surrender the Sponsor Ford 143 3 Transmission
42 41 33 Landon Cassill Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 66 2 Vibration
43 39 98 Michael McDowell Ambient Edge HVAC Ford 21 1 Vibration
#Rookie

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