Where we left off: Sprint Unlimited thrills, signals NASCAR’s return

Matt Kenseth managed to thrive and capture the checkered flag in a carnage-filled Sprint Unlimited.

The exhibition race marks NASCAR’s return every year, and this year’s edition didn’t disappoint. Multiple cautions and two red flags kept fans’ attention as the 2015 season began at Daytona International Speedway.

Chaos began when Kyle Larson moved into Brad Keselowski, sending the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion through the grass and eventually to the garage. This occurred on lap 23, two laps before the first segment ended. Things died down a bit after the field went back to green.

Lap 44 is went it all went down. Greg Biffle tapped the rear of Jamie McMurray’s machine and caused a domino effect, one that swept up 14 cars in the process. The red flag halted action for about 15 minutes before racing resumed. However, that banner reappeared on lap 68 when Biffle, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart wrecked on the backstretch.

Kenseth, who’s won the Daytona 500 twice at Daytona, first took the lead on lap 10 and remained in the picture all night. The lead shifted hands various times, yet he held onto it when it mattered most. After a sluggish 2014, the former Roush-Fenway Racing driver isn’t letting that happen this time around.

His biggest threat –Martin Truex, Jr.—fought in the final laps yet didn’t have enough momentum to pressure the former champion. Truex, Jr.’s strong showing, however, is a blessing for him and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who battled ovarian cancer late last year. His valiant push signals focus and determination.

Although the sport took a few months off, it seems like it’s picking up right where it left off. After Kenseth performed his burnout, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano bumped and banged their machines on the cool down lap. The reigning champion was upset with the Penske Racing driver’s on-track behavior, and they confronted each other on pit road. Although only words were exchanged, it reminded fans of last year’s temper-fueled Chase.

Racing’s return didn’t just bode well for Matt Kenseth; fans everywhere rejoiced at the sight of fast cars and angry drivers. It’s like NASCAR never left.

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