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Kansas City, Kan. • Matt Kenseth survived a caution-crazy first NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Kansas Speedway's repaved and reconfigured track Sunday.
He even contributed to the carnage. And that's what enabled Kenseth to win the Hollywood Casino 400 in front of an estimated 78,000 spectators on a warm but cloudy afternoon.
The repaved surface, which features more treacherous variable banking, took its toll on tires and fenders in a race that featured a track-record 14 cautions for 63 laps, breaking the record of 13 cautions set in the inaugural race in 2001.
And after Kenseth's Ford hit the fence on caution No. 13, when Aric Almirola's Ford went spinning out of control on lap No. 215 of 267, he surprisingly wound up in prime position to win his first Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in 14 tries.
"I knew he was going to spin before he knew he was going to spin," Kenseth said. "I saw that thing going around. That's what gave us the damage, which was still my fault. I got into the wall, and we had to come and fix it.
"It actually turned out to be some good fortune. Didn't slow the car down. I had more fuel than anybody. They had to wait to fill their tanks, and we got our tank full faster, plus we had a really good pit stop, were able to pass all those guys. Put me out front and gave us a chance."
Sure enough, Kenseth grabbed the lead from Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle after the restart and beat Martin Truex Jr. to the checkered flag by 0.495 seconds. It was Kenseth's third win of the season and second Chase for the Sprint Cup victory in three weeks. Paul Menard, a non-chase driver, was a surprising third in a Chevrolet.
The wild racing on an unfamiliar track with higher, variable banking took its toll on a who's who of NASCAR.
Kyle Busch went spinning out of control early and careened across the grass infield. Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart spun out on the back stretch. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson nearly saw his title hopes damaged in a wreck, but his crew taped up the damage so effectively that he saved a ninth-place finish and remained seven points behind Chase leader Brad Keselowski, who finished eighth.