Matt Kenseth's Toyota Camry - image: Joe Gibbs RacingEnlarge Photo
celebrated his 41st birthday in style, taking his Toyota Camry
to victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver nursed worn tires while holding off a charge from Kasey Kahne in the closing laps.
Kahne looked like the man to beat throughout much of the day, and Kenseth was able to get by the Hendrick Motorsports driver in the pits, opting for fuel only on his last stop. Penske driver Brad Keselowski crossed the line in third, followed by Kyle Busch, whose comeback from a pit lane speed penalty was nothing short of remarkable.
Cautions were minimal, amounting to just five throughout the race’s 267 laps, and there were no big wrecks. Given the windy conditions that plagued drivers throughout the race, it appears that they’re quickly adapting to the Generation Six cars.
While some Sprint Cup drivers have complained that passing in the new cars is all but impossible, NASCAR says that there were 31 passes for the lead under green flag conditions in Sunday’s race.
Kyle Busch’s charge from last-car-on-the-lead-lap to the front of the pack shows that a determined driver in a fast car can still make things happen mid-pack, too.Jimmie Johnson
looked fast early on and even managed to lead some 63 laps, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver managed just a sixth-place finish. That’s still good enough to keep him in the series’ points lead (with 129), followed by Brad Keselowski (124), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (119), Denny Hamlin (102) and Carl Edwards (98).
The Sprint Cup series heads to Bristol, Tennessee this week, where the drivers will get their first taste of short track racing in the Generation Six cars. The half mile oval is known for its spectacular multi-car crashes, so it’s pretty much a given that attrition will be a major factor next Sunday.