Just as many thought it was a three-man race for the championship, Kansas happened.
Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch were the prime Chasers coming into Sunday’s race. It was going to be an interesting scenario right off the bat; Busch was starting in the back due to going to a backup car, and Kansas Speedway has never been kind to him. The other two, however, are great at the mile-and-a-half track. Let’s sum up each driver’s day.
The driver of the No. 20 was expected to go for three straight wins at the track, capitalizing on its new surface, and he was strong -at times. It was a roller coaster day for Kenseth, ranging from great runs to speeding on pit road to having a slew of issues. Luck was a teasing mistress, catching him a lap down during a green flag pit stop run as the caution flew. In the end, he rallied for eleventh.
Johnson was rumored to have failed pre-race inspection this morning, although that was proven to be false. He, too, had an up and down day, one that included being caught going to pit road when a caution came out. But, Jimmie Johnson did Jimmie Johnson things and made it back into the top five in the closing moments. It was going great until his engine began to give up with two laps left. He limped around to finish in sixth, but who knows what would’ve happened if there was another caution.
Finally, we focus on Busch. The day began on an upswing, the driver doing what we does best and heading to the front. Unfortunately, his luck turned sour, and he was in twentieth when he scuffled with Brian Vickers. He tore up his car, and it solidified a thirty-fourth place for him.
Now that we’ve talked about that trio, let’s discuss three other important players.
It was well-known that Kevin Harvick had a great car. Not a commoner to the front row, a pole for him spoke volumes. There was a moment where he was marred in traffic after stops, and he got angry, but he composed himself and went on without a hitch. It was like the race was tailored for him. This shot him up to third in points.
Another person that made noise was Jeff Gordon. Finishing third, he kept his championship hopes afloat after being added to The Chase at Chicagoland. Not giving up, this finish put him in fourth for the standings.
The final game changer was the slew of cautions that came in like a hurricane. Fourteen yellow flags fell at the weirdest times, forcing pit strategies and flaring tempers. One was for a fire outside of the track, the smoke dropping into the arena and clouding drivers’ views. That’s another reason not to smoke (ba dum tss).
Next weekend, we head to The Queen City of Charlotte for a night race of epic proportions. Under the lights, with this Chase battle? This is going to get crazy.
Point Standings after Kansas
1. Matt Kenseth (–)
2. Jimmie Johnson (-3)
3. Kevin Harvick (-25)
4. Jeff Gordon (-32)
5. Kyle Busch (-35)
6. Greg Biffle (-44)
7. Kurt Busch (-47)
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-54)
9. Clint Bowyer (-55)
10. Joey Logano (-59)
11. Carl Edwards (-60)
12. Ryan Newman (-73)
13. Kasey Kahne (-83)