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Kenseth Claims Las Vegas On His Birthday

Kenseth Holds Off Kahne for 2013 Kobalt Tools 400 Win

By

Updated March 10, 2013
Matt Kenseth gave himself a very special present on his 41st birthday. Kenseth held off a serious challenge from Kasey Kahne in the closing laps to claim the 2013 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying

We were expecting the new Gen 6 car to break the qualifying track record in qualifying but mother nature brought the rain and washed out Las Vegas' qualifying. Without an official qualifying session Las Vegas remains eighth on the list of fastest race tracks.

With qualifying rained out the starting lineup to be set by 2012 car owner points.

2012 Champion Brad Keselowski started on the pole with Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle rounding out the top five.

Drop Of The Green

Keselowski lead them into turn one and was clear in turn two. He lead the first lap over Bowyer and Kahne.

Bowyer put the pressure on Keselowski and was underneath him for the lead when he wiggled and slid up the track losing a couple of spots on the race track.

On lap seven Kasey Kahne caught Keselowski for the lead and tried lap after lap to find a way around. Keselowski worked the top while Kahne challenged repeatedly on the bottom. Finally Kahne got a run off of turn four and drove it onto the apron on the front stretch and took the lead.

Kahne went on to lead the rest of the clean-and-green early racing.

Storylines

After Denny Hamlin was fined for his comments after last week's race all eyes were on the quality of the racing. Would drivers be able to pass?

By lap five the top twenty-five were running single-file but we did see Clint Bowyer try and then Kasey Kahne successfully passed the leader on the track under green within the first ten laps of the race. Fortunately the last 100 laps of this race would see some real racing including some competitive passes for the lead.

Chasing The Checkers

The highlight pass of the race came on a restart with 102 laps to go. Kyle Busch restarted in third place behind Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne but when the green flag flew Kyle turned left, went to the apron and took the lead three-wide into turn one.

This capped Kyle Busch's recovery from a pit road speeding penalty. He suffered a pass through penalty after the first round of green flag pit stops, fell to nineteenth and battled his way back to the front with what was clearly a very fast car.

Kasey Kahne reclaimed the front spot with 85 laps to go when Kyle Busch bobbled and slid up the track.

Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne exchanged the lead a couple more times under green flag racing conditions as Kyle Busch was fast on the restarts but Kahne could run him down within a few laps every time.

Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski used pit strategy to lead the field to the green flag after all the leaders pitted for the final time.

Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch both had a little bit of trouble in the pits and restarted sixth and seventh respectively with thirty-seven laps to go.

The field stacked up on the restart before Matt Kenseth got clear in turn two and lead them under green with Keselowski and Johnson behind him. The caution returned quickly when Ryan Newman's motor let go giving the field another chance to restart.

When the green flag flew again it was still Kenseth and Keselowski out front with Johnson and Kahne in the second row. The outside lane moved forward and when they got back to the line it was Kenseth and Kahne holding down the top two.

Kahne had lead the most laps and was fast all day so it seemed to be just a matter of time before Kahne retook the lead. Would the Gen 6 car allow for one more green flag pass?

Kenseth pulled out a bit of a lead but Kasey Kahne steadily chipped away at the lead and reached his back bumper with fourteen to go. Kahne tried repeatedly but just couldn't find a way past.

Kenseth's older tires were good enough to turn his track position into a win. Kenseth really drove his heart out in the closing laps to claim his twenty-fifth career victory on his forty-first birthday.

Top Ten

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Kasey Kahne
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Carl Edwards
  6. Jimmie Johnson
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10. Paul Menard

The Points

Jimmie Johnson's sixth place finish was plenty for him to hang onto the point lead. Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke their tie for second with Keselowski's third place effort in Las Vegas giving him the edge.

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Brad Keselowski -5
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -10
  4. Denny Hamlin -27
  5. Carl Edwards -31
  6. Mark Martin -34
  7. Greg Biffle -36
  8. Matt Kenseth -36
  9. Clint Bowyer -40
  10. Aric Almirola -41
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