In what can either be described as a dominating performance by Matt Kenseth’s friends and family, or an all-out snooze-fest with lots of long green-flag runs, Kenseth led nine times for 169 laps en route to an 8.315 second win over Clint Bowyer, ending a 76-race winless drought. “I haven’t had something like this for a long time,” Kenseth said. “It has been a long time.”
David Ragan won his first career pole in his 153rd career start on the evening at 189.820 mph and led the field to the green flag, leading the early stages until the first caution of the evening came out on lap 11 when Tony Raines went up in smoke in turn 4. Every single car on the track except Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Andy Lally took the opportunity to pit, resulting in a log jam on pit road that made post-race traffic look like child’s play. On pit road, Tony Stewart made contact with Dave Blaney’s car, spinning Blaney around and damaging his right front fender in the process. After pit stops, the top five were Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Lally, Ragan, and Kenseth.
When the race went back to green flag action, Kurt Busch was in the lead until lap 15 when Brad Keselowski took the point until lap 46, when he finally relinquished the lead to teammate Kurt Busch for a lap. Just as Busch took the lead, the second caution was thrown when David Gilliland’s car hit the wall in Turn 2. There was more chaos in the pits on this go-round when David Reutimann and Joey Logano made contact in the pits.
When the race went back to green, Greg Biffle led for a handful of laps until Matt Kenseth took the lead back on lap 59 and led until lap 94. After green flag pit stops, the lead cycled back to Matt Kenseth with Ragan second, A.J. Allmendinger third, Clint Bowyer fourth, and Biffle rounding out the top-5.
Caution No. 3 came out on lap 113 due to debris off of Kenny Schrader’s flat right front tire. After pit stops, it was Kurt Busch in first, Brad Keselowski second, Kenseth in third, with Denny Hamlin and Ragan rounding out the top-5. On lap 124, Kenseth retook the lead and held it until green flag pit stops.
After the stops had cycled through, Kenseth was still the leader with Bowyer second, Ragan third and Biffle and Kyle Busch rounding out the top-5. However, Kenseth didn’t get his car full of fuel on the stop, so he was forced to stop early. By stopping early, Kenseth forced another round of green flag pit stops and after they cycled through, it was Kenseth, Bowyer, Ragan, Carl Edwards, and Biffle as the top-5. Shortly afterwards, the fourth caution of the night came out for debris and bunched the field back up.
The race would go back to green, but on lap 215, Martin Truex, Jr. would suffer his second hard crash in two weeks as his car broke loose. Following contact with Kevin Harvick, his car whipped into the turn 2 wall and Mark Martin T-boned his passenger side door full-throttle. Regan Smith also piled in, having nowhere to go. The crash effectively ended the night for all three competitors.
Bowyer led until the last round of pit stops began on Lap 249. Following a drawn out cycle, Kenseth regained the lead briefly before making his final stop. Drivers like Stewart and Kurt Busch attempted to stay out to catch a caution.
Unfortunately, the caution never came and Stewart and Busch were both forced to pit. Stewart didn’t help his strategy by being caught speeding on pit road as well. However, Stewart’s crew chief Darian Grubb reassured his driver that he could still make it on fuel. Kurt was able to stay out until lap 320 before being forced to pit for fuel, giving the lead back to Kenseth. Kenseth was easily able to hold off Bowyer for the win.
Carl Edwards overcame an upset stomach to finish third.
“I hate to throw my mom under the bus, but she cooked something last night that I don’t think was too good,” Edwards quipped after the race.
Greg Biffle and Paul Menard rounded out the top-5. Marcos Ambrose, Ragan, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-10.
Tony Stewart ran out of fuel on the last lap, but managed to finish the race in 12th as the last car on the lead lap. “Hopefully, we can carry this momentum back to victory lane a couple of times,” Kenseth said after the race.
Carl Edwards re-took the points lead after a disappointing run by Kyle Busch to take a nine point lead over Busch. Matt Kenseth now propels himself to third in the points standings with Jimmie Johnson in fourth and Kurt Busch fifth in points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is up to sixth in points with Ryan Newman in seventh. Rounding out the current top-10 in points is Juan Pablo Montoya, Kevin Harvick, and Tony Stewart.
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