Matt Kenseth in Las Vegas, 2012 - image: Brian NeudorffEnlarge Photo
In fact, it was almost hard to name a driver that didn’t tag the wall on Sunday, including eventual race-winner Matt Kenseth. We certainly couldn’t have predicted the podium, which saw Martin Truex Jr. finishing second and Paul Menard finishing third.
For a while it looked like the race was Aric Almirola’s to lose. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver clearly had the fastest car, and made almost no mistakes until a spin put him in the wall following a restart on lap 173.
At one point, it looked like Kansas would end in disaster for Jimmie Johnson, who was second in points coming into the race. Johnson spun on lap 135, backing his car hard into the SAFER barrier. Thanks to some quick pit work, Johnson was able to continue the race and preserve his spot in the Chase, ultimately finishing ninth.
If you needed further proof that Brad Keselowski is still the driver to beat, it clearly came on Sunday. While the Penske driver only finished in eighth spot, he somehow miraculously escaped wreck after wreck after wreck. Happy to finish with an intact race car, Keselowski maintains a seven-point lead over second-place Johnson.
Even Danica Patrick had fifteen minutes of fame on Sunday, after she wrecked while trying to spin Landon Cassill. Patrick claimed that Cassil had been blocking and bumping her all day; in an attempt to teach him a lesson, Patrick lost control of her own car, overcorrected and stacked it hard in turn two.
Cassill emerged unscathed, and Patrick’s crew was quick to remind her, “you know better than that.” It was a serious rookie mistake (as was trying to catch the spin and collecting the wall), and we can't help but wonder how many more second chances Patrick has in Sprint Cup competition.
Image credit: Brian Neudorff, CC 2.0