Starting in pole position at Bristol Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth battled for first place through a race that was delayed four times by rain, extended by 11 laps and included numerous cautions, driving the Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Toyota Camry to victory in the NASCAR Food City 500 on Sunday. Although Kenseth was in the lead position for only 47 of the 511 laps of Sunday’s race, he consistently remained among the top ten leaders while avoiding making any critical mistakes.
Kurt Busch looked set to win the race, but headed to pit road on a late caution, being the only driver among the leaders to do so, and when he rejoined the race he had fallen to sixth position. Matt Kenseth was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman in the top five positions for the rain-drenched 2015 Food City 500.
The start of Sunday’s race was delayed by nearly 90 minutes due to the rain, and was stopped three more times before the checkered flag came down. One delay lasted nearly four hours, but organizers were determined to stage a complete race and crowds of die-hard fans stuck around to witness Kenseth crossing the finish line. Other glitches in the events included Austin Dillon running out of gas, reportedly due to the lengthy final caution. Denny Hamlin failed to return to the track after the first break due to a neck-related health issue, and two Team Penske drivers were involved in a wreck twenty laps into the race.
Born in Cambridge, Wisconson, on March 10, 1972, Matt Kenseth started stock car racing at Madison International Speedway at the age of 16, driving a 1981 Camaro. He started competing in the Sprint Cup Series in 1998, filling in for Bill Elliot in the Winston Cup Series at Dover, where he finished in 6th place. His career has included a number of highlights and he has driven for various teams through the years. In September 2012 it was announced that Kenseth would be competing in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing Team, driving the #20 Toyota. He started the 2015 season by winning the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, ahead of Martin Truex, Jr. and Carl Edwards in second and third places respectively.
Eight races into the 2015 season, currently Kevin Harvick is in the #1 spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, followed by (in order) Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Aric Almirola.
Held annually at the Daytona International Speedway, the Buddweiser Duels are two 150-mile races in which the finishing order determines the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. The race first took place in 1959 and has changed names over the years in line with sponsorships. The 2014 event was won by Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlim – both driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Be sure to catch the action in the second race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on 19 February.
Date: 19 February 2014
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
City: Daytona Beach
By earning first place in the Geico 500 at Talladega on Sunday, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski secured his place in the Eliminator Round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Matt Kenseth took second place in the action-packed race, with Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, and Ryan Newman taking third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Drivers who will not be progressing into the next phase of the championship include Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Brian Vickers was in pole position at the start of a race that saw a number of changes in the lead, ending the race in 20th position. Johnson needed a win to avoid elimination, but although he did well in parts of the race, ended in 24th position. As green flag pit stops began at Lap 103, Kyle Busch was caught up in a wreck at the back of the field, sending him into the pits. He made it back to the track, picking up 4 points, but ending in 40th place.
At one point Danica Patrick was in the lead, but when a caution came out with only 13 laps remaining, Ryan Newman took the lead and held it until another caution flag came out with only five laps to go. As the race came to an end, Earnhardt got caught up in a wreck, and Keselowski took the lead in overtime, holding back the rest of the field for the final three laps and winning the Talladega race.
The eight drivers competing in the Eliminator Round – Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth – will have their point totals reset to 4,000, while the abovementioned four will have their point totals reset to 2,000 with points gained in the regular season and the Chase being added. The Eliminator Round starts with Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, followed by the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, and the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9. The final Championship race will be the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.
Joey Logano notched up his third win of the season and his first at Bristol Motor Speedway, when he took the checkered flag in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday. Following a late restart and with 45 laps to go, Logano took the lead from Matt Kenseth and held off teammate Brad Keselowski to win the race. Having finished in the top six in five consecutive races, Logano is firmly in the picture for the Chase for the Sprint Cup which starts on September 14 with the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Keselowski took second place in the Irwin Tools Night Race, with Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch taking third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.
In a post-race interview Logano was quoted as saying that the past six or seven races have been unbelievable and running up front has “been so much fun”. While acknowledging that he really wanted the victory, Keselowski note that a “Penske 1-2 is something to be proud of.”
There were two big crashes in the Irwin Tools Night Race, fortunately with no injuries. The first crash, between Brian Vickers and Aric Almirola, collected Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch, but the second crash is the one getting a lot of media attention as it raises the issue of how drivers should handle accidents. On lap 161 Kevin Harvick connected Denny Hamlin, sending him across the track to slam into the inside wall. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also became a casualty of the collision as he tried, and failed, to avoid Hamlin’s spinning car. When Hamlin got out of his car, he threw his HANS device at Harvick as the race continued. Although Hamlin remained in his car until safety crews arrived and was on the apron when he threw the device, it remains to be seen whether he will face a penalty for his action, particularly as on track safety and driver accountability remains under the spotlight following the altercation between Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. which led to Ward’s death.
With 845 points, Jeff Gordon is currently in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in second place with 818 points, with Brad Keselowski (776 points), Joey Logano (761 points) and Matt Kenseth (751 points) in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
The Irwin Tools Night Race covers a distance of 266.5 miles (500 laps) and is one of two NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at Bristol Motor Speedway, the other race being the Food City 500. Last year’s event was won by Matt Kenseth, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Darrel Waltrip has had the most wins (7) and although the team no longer exists, Junior Johnson & Associates still holds the record for the team with the most wins (9). As this is reputed to be one of the most popular races on the Sprint Cup schedule, be sure to get your tickets early. For more information visit nascar.com or www.bristolmotorspeedway.com
Date: 23 August 2014
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway