John Harrelson

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway: Matt Kenseth wins Chase wreckfest

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Points: With four races to go, a look at the Chase

Brad Keselowski came into Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway with a seven-point lead in the Chase standings...and left with a seven-point lead in the Chase standings.

But boy, were there ever some crazy developments in between.

Keselowski dodged wrecks all day to maintain his hold on the top spot, and second-place Jimmie Johnson overcame a crash to get a top-10 finish and stay close to the lead.

"I feel like surviving Talladega right here," Keselowski said afterward. "I said when we finished Talladega that somebody should make, ‘I Survived Talladega' T-shirts. Well, I didn't know coming to Kansas it was going to be the same. Just wrecks and accidents and blown tires, everything you can imagine happened today. I felt really lucky to survive it."

Denny Hamlin lost five points and remained third in the standings – 20 points back – while Clint Bowyer is 25 points behind in fourth. Fifth-place Kasey Kahne is still in contention (albeit barely) with a deficit of 30 points to Keselowski.

Clearly, there's nothing decided about the championship with four races to go.

"I see it coming all the way down to Homestead," Keselowski said. "It will be decided there. I'm happy with the season that we've had so far and the position that we're in. It's going to come down to the last race, that's pretty obvious after today."

Here are the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after Kansas:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Jimmie Johnson -7
  3. Denny Hamlin -20
  4. Clint Bowyer -25
  5. Kasey Kahne -30
  6. Martin Truex Jr. -43
  7. Tony Stewart -47
  8. Jeff Gordon -51
  9. Matt Kenseth -55
  10. Kevin Harvick -59
  11. Greg Biffle -62
  12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -122
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Denny Hamlin loses ground in Chase

Denny Hamlin was caught a lap down in Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway when a caution came out after he pitted under green on lap 208 – and spent the rest of the race trying to play catch up.

Hamlin caught a caution a few laps later and used the wave-around to get his lap back, but found himself deep in traffic with a car that was mostly unable to navigate through the field.

He blamed a lot of his day on the one-groove nature of the new Kansas surface and finished 13th – worst among the top four in points.

"We just never got a chance to race," Hamlin said. "Every run, I either had to save fuel or got caught by a caution and then go a lap down, get a wave-around and it's just – got caught by two cautions today.

“Nobody could pass anyone after five laps on the restart, so you do the best you can for five laps to pass guys and then you just ride around in circles until someone blows a tire."

Despite the struggles, he lost only five points to championship leader Brad Keselowski and now sits 20 points out of first with four races remaining.

With both Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson struggling at Kansas, Hamlin felt as though he lost a major opportunity to gain ground on his closest championship challengers.

"Well, this is a race where when you got the other guys you're racing finishing eighth and ninth," Hamlin said. "You've got to beat them, especially wrecked race cars that shouldn't be there. So we just shot ourselves in the foot a lot today. We'll just try to rebound at Martinsville. It's been a good track for us."

Martinsville could provide the opening that Hamlin needs. In 14 starts, Hamlin has won four times and has an average finish of 6.4. He won there three straight times from 2009-2010.

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Jimmie Johnson somehow salvages top-10 finish

When the No. 48 car spun into the wall on lap 136 of Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, Jimmie Johnson's quest to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship appeared to be all but over.

Initially, crew chief Chad Knaus even told Johnson to drive straight to the garage – a move which would have put him several laps down while undergoing repairs.

But using the same resiliency that propelled them to five consecutive titles, the 48 crew went to work to repair the battered and bruised Chevrolet. And the hard work was rewarded as the end result saw Johnson stay on the lead lap and leave Kansas Speedway with a ninth-place result.

"Luckily the damage to the car was really cosmetic," Johnson said. "The suspension was still true and straight and the car drove correctly. That helped me more than anything. If the car was wicked and evil to drive, it would have been a long, long afternoon. Luckily nothing was all that bad and it was just cosmetics."

More important, he was able to keep pace with championship leader Brad Keselowski and leave the weekend just as he entered it – seven points out of first place.

"I'm just now getting a chance to look at the damage on the car and it's pretty severe," Johnson said surveying his wounded ride. "One, I'm impressed that they fixed it as they did and got the spoiler and deck lid back in place. Two, I'm surprised that the car was as fast as it was."

Initially, Johnson's day looked to be promising, as he quickly settled near the front when the green flag waved, before vaulting into the lead on Lap 75 where he paced the field for the next 44 circuits.

But after making an otherwise routine pit stop under the green flag, the caution came out, trapping him mid-pack. And it was then that his day became an adventure, as Johnson overdrove trying to work his way through traffic and pounded the wall.

It was a mistake Johnson would later readily acknowledge, while at the same time kicking himself for giving away what he thought was a possible victory.

"I had a couple of hundred miles to think through the mistake I made," Johnson said. "And I want to be happy because of this amazing comeback the team had, but one little mistake. We didn't lose many points if any, at all today; maybe it's a draw because I led a lap. I'm not sure if Brad did. But it could have been so much more. You don't want to leave points on the table."

If there is any solace in Sunday's result, it is that the series now travels to Martinsville, a track where Johnson is always on top of his game and a place where he's won six times.

"Today we had a fast enough car that I think we could have gotten some points on him (Keselowski)," Johnson said. "So I'm disappointed in that, but at the same time, what we went through to finish and have it be even still is pretty good. So, we'll take it and we'll go to Martinsville and hopefully things will go well."

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Danica Patrick, Landon Cassill wreck at Kansas

Danica Patrick vowed to stand up for herself when the time was right, and she deemed Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway to be that time.

Patrick, in her eighth Sprint Cup Series race, spun Landon Cassill around the midway point of the Hollywood Casino 400 as frustration over what she said were multiple incidents with the BK Racing driver boiled over.

"He got into me on the front straight and said I was just in the way," Patrick said. "That's really no good reason to hit me. If it's one time, I can imagine it's frustration, but it's been quite a few times with him. At some point I have to stand up for myself so this doesn't happen with other people. I chose today."

Cassill, though, told SB Nation he didn't slam into Patrick because she was in the way – he moved the No. 10 car because Patrick was "driving like a maniac making it three-wide on a restart" when others were "staying cool to keep from wrecking."

While the leaders were wrecking at the front of the field, Cassill said he and other drivers racing around the back were "biding our time." Patrick made it three-wide but didn't pass him – a move which irked Cassill.

"If you're going to make it three-wide and pass somebody, you've got to back it up," he said by phone after the race. "But she didn't. She goes under there, and then she's sliding up the racetrack and then jacks up the field, gets in the way. Then she lets two cars go by, and when I get underneath her, she crowds me. So I was like, 'No! I've been faster than you all day,' so I was going to move her. And I did."

"I didn't hit her because she was in my way and I wanted to pick on her, I hit her because she was driving like an idiot for 30th."

Patrick, who wrecked herself as she tried to wreck Cassill's No. 83 car (see video below), said she couldn't overlook repeated incidents with the same driver. Cassill, though, didn't see it that way. The only other run-in he could recall was at Atlanta, when he accidentally nudged her car while coming off the corner.

After that race, Cassill said he texted Patrick and said: "Hey, I wasn't trying to run all over you. I didn't see how your car was handling."

According to Cassill, Patrick replied and said, "Oh, it's OK. My car was really tight, I kind of checked up."

"I didn't think she had an issue or felt like I was taking advantage of her," Cassill said. "And I didn't do anything different with her today than I did with some other guys. There was a lot of hard racing out there today. It was a great racetrack, but it provided for hard racing. That's racing. That's how it goes."

Patrick said she wrecked the car that was supposed to be used at Texas in two weeks. She was disappointed, she said, especially to be "out of the race and he's not."

"He's still out there going, so I've got to work on how to do that," she said.

Cassill noted hard racing is common in NASCAR, especially at newly repaved intermediate tracks with a narrow groove. In that respect, he said, Patrick "made some aggressive moves that in my opinion were unnecessary."

"She holds up the field and holds up the other cars by crowding, and I needed to get by her – so I laid some sheet metal to her," he said. "I don't have anything against her. We're all working our asses off to make it here; I am, she is. It's a competitive sport, and events like this happen. She's a professional race car driver and so am I, and that's how the sport is."

Patrick finished 32nd and Cassill finished 18th, which tied his best result of the season.

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Results: Matt Kenseth wins at Kansas

Fans who came to Kansas Speedway on Sunday thought they were attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Instead, they witnessed the latest episode of "Survivor."

Matt Kenseth won a wild war of attrition, otherwise known as the Hollywood Casino 400, beating Martin Truex Jr. to the checkered flag by .495 seconds to claim his third victory of the season, his first at Kansas and the 24th of his career.

Paul Menard ran third, followed by polesitter Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, who rallied from a 33rd-place starting position and spin on the backstretch during the race.

The slick, new racing surface at the 1.-5 mile track produced a track-record 14 cautions for 66 caution laps, and no one was immune from disaster -- not even a five-time champion.

Jimmie Johnson's quest for a sixth Cup title appeared to have suffered a severe setback on Lap 135, when the No. 48 Chevrolet spun in heavy traffic and backed into the Turn 4 wall. After leading 44 laps, Johnson had just taken a wave-around for a restart on Lap 128, having been trapped a lap down when Aric Almirola smacked the Turn 2 wall, and the resulting caution interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops.

Johnson, however, stayed on the lead lap through a succession of pit stops under the yellow, and a liberal application of BearBond kept the No. 48 competitive. Astoundingly, Johnson and his team salvaged a ninth-place finish on a day that could have been much worse and remained seven points behind eighth-place finisher and series leader Brad Keselowski with four races left in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Here are the results from today's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway:

  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Paul Menard
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Regan Smith
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Jeff Gordon
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Marcos Ambrose
  13. Denny Hamlin
  14. Carl Edwards
  15. Jamie McMurray
  16. Juan Pablo Montoya
  17. Travis Kvapil
  18. Landon Cassill
  19. Joey Logano
  20. David Ragan
  21. Trevor Bayne
  22. Timmy Hill
  23. David Gilliland
  24. Mark Martin
  25. Kurt Busch
  26. Sam Hornish Jr.
  27. Greg Biffle
  28. Jeff Burton
  29. Aric Almirola
  30. Ryan Newman
  31. Kyle Busch
  32. Danica Patrick
  33. Bobby Labonte
  34. Scott Speed
  35. AJ Allmendinger
  36. Mike Bliss
  37. Casey Mears
  38. Kelly Bires
  39. Dave Blaney
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. Reed Sorenson
  42. JJ Yeley
  43. Michael McDowell
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Viewer's guide: Today's Kansas race

As you watch today's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, here are some storylines to follow, notes and drivers to keep an eye on:

Storylines

Kansas and the great unknown

Of the 10 tracks in the Chase, Kansas Speedway is the great unknown thanks to a reconfiguration that commenced shortly after the spring event. Thus far, it's been a struggle for drivers and crew chiefs alike in learning the nuances of the redesigned oval. And the new surface has also created lightning quick speeds – in qualifying all 43 starters broke the previous track record held by Matt Kenseth.

Another byproduct of the repave is the outside groove has yet to rubber-in, which means that passing opportunities are going to be limited. And with just a single-groove, track position will be the name of the game today with Denny Hamlin even going as far to call this an "extreme track position race."

To counter the lack of side-by-side racing, with little-to-no wear on the left-side tires expect to see crew chiefs call for plenty of two-tire stops as they attempt to do everything in their power to play the track position game to their advantage. And as has been the theme throughout the year - including last week at Charlotte - fuel mileage will likely come into play with the team that can best crunch the numbers having the decided edge in the closing laps.

Reliability concerns for Toyota

Clint Bowyer is from nearby Emporia, Kan. and he views this race in front of his home state fans as bigger than the Daytona 500. And coming off a win at Charlotte, the native Kansan enters today with what looks to be his best opportunity to get that victory he so desperately wants. But the one thing that might prevent him from being a contender this afternoon centers on the durability of the Toyota motors.

In the spring race here Bowyer, along with fellow Toyota drivers Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte, all headed to the garage early due to an engine that couldn't go the distance. And that issue has been a problem throughout the year, with Toyota teams having been frequently hamstrung by a power plant that is lacking in reliability.

However, if any of the Toyota cars can last for 400 miles, they should be strong and among the challengers this afternoon. In the spring, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. dominated with the two combining to lead 76 percent of the laps with Hamlin ultimately prevailing. And last week on a similar type of track, it was Hamlin who led the most laps and easily had the fastest car at the end of the night.

An uphill battle for the points leader

At Charlotte a miscalculation on fuel cost Brad Keselowski half of his point lead. Now with just a seven point lead over Jimmie Johnson, Keselowski enters today knowing another slight bobble will likely drop him out of first. And if that were to happen, Johnson will have the decided advantage as the series heads to Martinsville next week - a track where Johnson excels and Keselowski has struggled.

Working against Keselowski today is the fact that he has been less than stellar on tracks that have just undergone a repave. In his first visits to both Pocono and Michigan this year after those ovals had laid a down a new surface, the Penske Racing driver's best result was 13th and he led a combined three laps.

Also not helping matters is with passing at a premium; Keselowski dug himself a hole by qualifying 25th. But if there is a silver lining in all this, it's that the No. 2 team won here last year after starting in the same position - the farthest back a Kansas winner has ever lined up on the grid.

Worth Noting
  • What is the key to winning at Kansas? Start up front, with eight of the 13 races having been won by a driver who started the race somewhere in the top 10.
  • Only once in the Chase era has a driver won the fall Kansas race and then gone on to win the championship. Not surprisingly that driver was Jimmie Johnson, who won here in 2006 on his way to his first Cup title.
  • By finishing ahead of Toyota, Chevrolet will clinch the manufacturers' championship for the 10th straight year. And if that happens, it will be the 36th time overall that Chevrolet has won the title.
Favorites

1. Jimmie Johnson

With two wins, 10 top-10 finishes in 12 starts and the all-time leader in laps led, it's fair to say that Jimmie Johnson is good on the 1.5-mile oval. Whether that success translates to the new surface remains to be seen. However, with a fast car I wouldn't bet against the five-time champ finding a way to get to the front just as he typically has done so in the past.

2. Greg Biffle

A two-time Kansas winner who also finished fifth here in the spring, Greg Biffle has consistently been among the quickest since unloading Thursday - including having posted the fastest time in Saturday's first round of practice.

3. Denny Hamlin

If he hadn't wrecked his primary car Thursday in a 202 mph encounter with the wall, Denny Hamlin would almost certainly be atop this week's list of favorites. But despite the accident, the April Kansas winner should still be strong today, as he will be driving the same car today he raced at Chicagoland where ran in the top five with for majority of the afternoon.

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NASCAR Weather For Kansas Speedway

Looking forward to a nice day at Kansas Speedway for the Sprint Cup race this afternoon. Mix of sunshine and clouds this afternoon, and warmer as highs get into the upper 70s. Winds will be out of the south between 5 to 15 mph. No weather problems expected.

Please follow me on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN and like me on Facebook for the latest weather updates through the week.

Conditions in Kansas City, KS: Click here for Current Weather Conditions | Look at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SUNDAY
12:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Pre-Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 68
1:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Pre-Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 72
2:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 74
3:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 77
4:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 78
5:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 79

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Race day: Here's the start time, lineup and more

It's NASCAR race day at Kansas Speedway, and we've got the actual race start time, the starting lineup and some other facts about today's Hollywood Casino 400 for you below.

What time does the race start today? As for most races in the Chase, today's Kansas race begins shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern time (1 p.m. local). To be specific, comedian Rob Riggle will tell the drivers to start their engines at 2:10 p.m. Eastern, and the exact start time of the Kansas race is 2:19 p.m. ET (1:19 local).

Race name/distance: Today's race is the Hollywood Casino 400, named for the casino built outside the track's Turn 2 (and the reason Kansas got a second race date). It's 267 laps around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway for a total of 400 miles.

TV, radio and live streaming: Today's race can be seen on ESPN, as will every race for the rest of the season. There IS live streaming of the race today, which can be found at NASCAR.com's "RaceBuddy" site and on the "Watch ESPN" app. If you'll be away from your computer and TV, check the Motor Racing Network's web site for a list of affiliate radio stations in your area.

*** NOTE: If you're out and about today and can't watch the race, make sure to follow me (@jeff_gluck) on Twitter. I'll be tweeting updates about the event. ***

National anthem: The 1st Infantry Division Band out of Fort Riley, Kansas will play the national anthem today. You can be certain the Army musicians won't try to "make it their own" when it comes to performing the "Star Spangled Banner."

Tickets: The race is not an announced sellout, so you should be good to go if you're planning to make a last-minute trip on race day. As of late Saturday night, there were still chunks of at least 20 tickets together available on the speedway's web site.

Weather: The unofficial NASCAR weatherman, Brian Neudorff, says today's weather in Kansas City will be a gorgeous 77 degrees with mostly sunny skies. After a chilly start to the Kansas weekend, those temperatures will certainly be welcome.

Last time: In April, Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. to deny the Michael Waltrip Racing driver his second career win. And one year ago in the Kansas race, Jimmie Johnson beat Kasey Kahne in a green-white-checkered finish for one of only two wins last season.

Here's the starting lineup for today's NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway (Chase drivers in bold):

  1. Kasey Kahne
  2. Mark Martin
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Aric Almirola
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Greg Biffle
  12. Matt Kenseth
  13. AJ Allmendinger
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Sam Hornish Jr.
  16. Martin Truex Jr.
  17. Carl Edwards
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Jeff Gordon
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Jamie McMurray
  22. Bobby Labonte
  23. Michael McDowell
  24. Juan Pablo Montoya
  25. Brad Keselowski
  26. Landon Cassill
  27. JJ Yeley
  28. Casey Mears
  29. Kurt Busch
  30. Mike Bliss
  31. Travis Kvapil
  32. Trevor Bayne
  33. Tony Stewart
  34. Reed Sorenson
  35. Scott Speed
  36. Joe Nemechek
  37. David Ragan
  38. David Gilliland
  39. Regan Smith
  40. Danica Patrick
  41. Dave Blaney
  42. Timmy Hill
  43. Kelly Bires
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Nationwide: Incredible comeback wins the race

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rallied from two laps down to win Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway and tighten the battle for the series championship.

During a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race six laps beyond its scheduled distance of 200 laps, Stenhouse surged to the front in the final turn after Kyle Busch ran out of fuel.

Austin Dillon ran second, .288 seconds behind Stenhouse. Polesitter Joey Logano finished third, followed by Elliott Sadler and Cole Whitt.

In winning for the sixth time this season and the eighth time in his career, Stenhouse cut Sadler's series lead from 13 points to six with three races left in the season.

To get to Victory Lane, Stenhouse had to survive a collision with Logano's No. 18 Toyota -- an incident team owner Jack Roush said was Stenhouse's fault just past the halfway point.

"The guys did an awesome job getting the car back together, and we never gave up," Stenhouse said. "Mike made great calls and adjustments to fix how the car drove with the damage, and it was still one of the fastest cars out there.

"I didn't see the win coming like this, but we will take it."

Saturday's event was the first NASCAR race on a track that was newly repaved and reconfigured with graduated banking, and there were some growing pains. The race produced a record 12 cautions for a total of 50 laps.

The championship battle took an ominous turn for Stenhouse, the defending series champion, just after the midpoint of the race. Stenhouse and polesitter Logano collided off Turn 2, damaging both cars, but both were able to continue.

Stenhouse was following Logano closely just before the contact.

"We had a lot of debris on the grille, and we were 300 (degrees) on water and oil, and I thought we would have to pit to come get that off before we blew up," Stenhouse said. "I was trying to get behind him to get the debris off and he checked up at the last second and I turned and just drove right into the side of him. There wasn't much he could do about it, and I thought it ruined our day, but we were able to bounce back from it."

Stenhouse lost two laps during a green-flag pit stop but got them back on a wave-around before a Lap 142 restart and a free pass as the highest-scored lapped car under the 10th caution of the afternoon.

Back on the lead lap for a restart on Lap 167, Stenhouse had charged to 13th by the time Mike Bliss' slide through the tri-oval caused the track-record-tying 11th caution. Stenhouse was two spots behind Sadler in fifth when first-time Nationwide starter Hal Martin and Scott Lagasse Jr. wrecked off Turn 2 on Lap 198.

Fearing they would run out of fuel in overtime, Sadler and Dillon both pitted for a splash of fuel under the 12th caution. Stenhouse restarted fourth and took the checkered flag when Kyle Busch ran out of fuel on the final lap.

So ended another disappointing day for Busch, still trying to win for the first time behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota he owns.

"That's our year, man -- nothing else to it than that," said Busch, who rolled across the finish line in sixth place. "...What a frustrating defeat."

Notes: The race marked the first appearance for a Pakastani driver in a NASCAR event. Nur Ali finished 33rd in his NASCAR debut after slamming the Turn 3 wall on Lap 69... Derek White, who wrecked in Turn 4 on Lap 138 to cause the ninth yellow, was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation... Danica Patrick (10th) posted her third top-10 finish of the season, but she'll remember this race for a spectacular three-wide pass of Sadler and Ryan Blaney for the sixth spot on Lap 171.

RACE RESULTS

1. (10) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 206, $91143.
2. (2) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 206, $65718.
3. (1) Joey Logano(i), Toyota, 206, $50125.
4. (7) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 206, $38533.
5. (8) Cole Whitt #, Chevrolet, 206, $35158.
6. (6) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 206, $24190.
7. (21) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 206, $32208.
8. (14) Michael Annett, Ford, 206, $28508.
9. (12) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 206, $27418.
10. (13) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 206, $27783.
11. (27) Ryan Blaney(i), Dodge, 206, $26058.
12. (22) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 206, $25508.
13. (23) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 206, $24958.
14. (37) Danny Efland, Chevrolet, 206, $24448.
15. (15) Eric McClure, Toyota, 205, $24888.
16. (5) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, Fuel, 204, $20160.
17. (39) Erik Darnell, Chevrolet, 204, $23493.
18. (4) Kenny Wallace, Toyota, Fuel, 203, $23983.
19. (32) Joey Gase #, Chevrolet, 202, $16555.
20. (24) Jason Bowles #, Dodge, 201, $23488.
21. (29) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, 200, $22703.
22. (33) Jennifer Jo Cobb(i), Chevrolet, 200, $16125.
23. (26) Brad Sweet #, Chevrolet, Engine, 199, $22458.
24. (19) Scott Lagasse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 197, $15875.
25. (16) Hal Martin, Toyota, Accident, 182, $22683.
26. (3) Brian Scott, Toyota, 177, $23098.
27. (42) Dexter Stacey, Ford, 165, $21988.
28. (17) James Buescher(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 155, $21868.
29. (40) Derek White, Toyota, Accident, 130, $21718.
30. (31) Tony Raines(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 123, $15440.
31. (9) Johanna Long #, Chevrolet, Accident, 109, $21473.
32. (43) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 75, $14895.
33. (41) Nur Ali, Chevrolet, Accident, 68, $21253.
34. (30) Scott Saunders, Ford, Accident, 31, $14675.
35. (11) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Water Pump, 24, $14565.
36. (25) Blake Koch, Toyota, Ignition, 24, $14455.
37. (36) Carl Long, Chevrolet, Overheating, 23, $14335.
38. (34) Timmy Hill, Ford, Engine, 14, $14275.
39. (35) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, Clutch, 14, $13940.
40. (28) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 9, $13830.
41. (38) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 8, $13725.
42. (18) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 4, $13520.
43. (20) Chase Miller, Chevrolet, Ignition, 4, $13413.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 111.597 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 46 Mins, 08 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.288 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 12 for 50 laps.
Lead Changes: 14 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Logano(i) 1-34; R. Stenhouse Jr. 35-37; P. Menard(i) 38-44; R. Stenhouse Jr. 45-53; P. Menard(i) 54-58; R. Stenhouse Jr. 59-70; P. Menard(i) 71-112; A. Dillon # 113-117; P. Menard(i) 118-139; J. Allgaier 140-142; P. Menard(i) 143-175; K. Busch(i) 176-183; P. Menard(i) 184; K. Busch(i) 185-205; R. Stenhouse Jr. 206;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): P. Menard(i) 6 times for 110 laps; J. Logano(i) 1 time for 34 laps; K. Busch(i) 2 times for 29 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 4 times for 25 laps; A. Dillon # 1 time for 5 laps; J. Allgaier 1 time for 3 laps.
Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler - 1,136; R. Stenhouse Jr. - 1,130; A. Dillon # - 1,110; S. Hornish Jr. - 1,038; M. Annett - 986; J. Allgaier - 974; C. Whitt # - 913; M. Bliss - 820; B. Scott - 758; D. Patrick - 742.

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Warmer and more sunshine for Kansas Speedway

Temperatures warm up and winds die down for Saturday and Sunday at Kansas Speedway. No weather problems for the Nationwide race today and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.

Nascar_weather_forecast_kansas_medium

Forecast will be sunny for this afternoon and warmer as highs get near 70 degrees. Winds will also be less out of the southeast at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday is just as nice and warmer as temperatures during the race get into the mid to upper 70s.

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Conditions in Kansas City, KS: Click here for Current Weather Conditions | Look at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SATURDAY:
11:00 a.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Practice – Mostly sunny – temp: 52
12:05 p.m. EDT
Nationwide Series Qualifying – Mostly sunny – temp: 58
1:50 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Final Practice – Mostly sunny – temp: 64
3:30 p.m. EDT
Nationwide Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 66

SUNDAY
12:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Pre-Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 67
1:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Pre-Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 71
2:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 73
3:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 76
4:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 77
5:00 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Race – Mostly sunny – temp: 78

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Lineup: Kasey Kahne grabs the pole

Kasey Kahne, one of NASCAR's most underrated drivers when it comes to qualifying, just did it again: The Hendrick Motorsports driver won the pole position for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The No. 1 qualifying spot was the fourth for Kahne this season and the 26th of his career. Since 2006, Kahne now has 20 poles – more than any other driver during that time.

Mark Martin (starting second) looked to have the time to beat until Kahne came along and bumped the veteran driver from the top spot with an average speed of 191.360 mph.

Kahne's speed was a track record, but all 46 drivers to make an attempt broke the track record on the newly repaved surface.

Kansas native Clint Bowyer will start third, followed by Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola. Points leader Brad Keselowski qualified 25th, while second-place Jimmie Johnson (seventh) and third-place Denny Hamlin (eighth) will start side-by-side.

Cole Whitt, David Stremme and Josh Wise failed to qualify for the race.

Here's the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway (Chase drivers in bold):

  1. Kasey Kahne
  2. Mark Martin
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Aric Almirola
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Greg Biffle
  12. Matt Kenseth
  13. AJ Allmendinger
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Sam Hornish Jr.
  16. Martin Truex Jr.
  17. Carl Edwards
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Jeff Gordon
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Jamie McMurray
  22. Bobby Labonte
  23. Michael McDowell
  24. Juan Pablo Montoya
  25. Brad Keselowski
  26. Landon Cassill
  27. JJ Yeley
  28. Casey Mears
  29. Kurt Busch
  30. Mike Bliss
  31. Travis Kvapil
  32. Trevor Bayne
  33. Tony Stewart
  34. Reed Sorenson
  35. Scott Speed
  36. Joe Nemechek
  37. David Ragan
  38. David Gilliland
  39. Regan Smith
  40. Danica Patrick
  41. Dave Blaney
  42. Timmy Hill
  43. Kelly Bires
DNQ: Cole Whitt, David Stremme, Josh Wise.
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Danica acknowledges disappointing results

No matter how you measure it, Danica Patrick's first full campaign as a NASCAR driver has been a struggle – both in the Nationwide Series, where she is running a full slate of races, and in the Sprint Cup Series, where she is running a handful of events.

Between the two national series, Patrick has contested 36 races in 2012 and has finished in the top 10 just twice. Her best result is an eighth-place run in the August Nationwide race at Bristol.

"Ultimately, I am disappointed with the results," Patrick said Friday at Kansas Speedway. "I wish they were better. I wish there were better things on the record books. I would imagine a lot of drivers can say that at the end of the year."

On the Cup side, the results have been particularly sub-par. In seven starts, the former IndyCar driver has finished no better than 25th and, perhaps more telling to how far off the pace she's been, has yet to finish a race within a single lap of the leaders.

While she ran decent at Darlington and Bristol, she admitted she "sucked" in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, where she expected to perform better.

"I get frustrated when think about how I'm doing out there in Cup sometimes in practice," said Patrick, who will run in both series this weekend. "But then I remember back to Nationwide and I remember it didn't go so great there either and you end up figuring out how to drive the car and get it to the limit and feel it out and be able to believe in that.

"I'm just not quite there. And so each time I get to a new track, it's always the same: I just need to build up my confidence."

What hasn't helped Patrick this year is that her Cup car owner, Tony Stewart, purposely stacked the schedule against her. Before the season, he intentionally picked what he thought where the most challenging tracks and said "we picked races that were going to be hard. They weren't supposed to be easy."

And as someone who himself has made the successful transition from IndyCar to NASCAR, Stewart's thinking was that this was the best way to prepare Patrick for the rigors of running at NASCAR's highest level.

"I believe she can do it, but it wasn't going to be easy," Stewart said. "There wasn't anything to learn by going to easy tracks this year on a partial schedule. The schedule she's going to have next year, she is going to have to go to these hard tracks and being able to have that experience of going the year before – even if it's a rough experience – you at least learn and get a base of that track."

And when next year rolls around, Stewart thinks Patrick will eventually thank him for making it so difficult on her.

"Anytime you do something for the first time, it's tough," he said. "The second time is always easier, I don't care what it is. And next year, she will see the benefits of that."

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Marcos Ambrose hopes to re-sign with Petty soon

On the same day Richard Petty Motorsports signed an extension with manufacturer Ford for the 2013 season, driver Marcos Ambrose said he plans to stick around next year, too.

"We are all squared away as far as what the expectations are on both sides and it is just a matter of finishing it off at this point," Ambrose said in quotes released by Ford. "I can't see any reason why I wouldn't want to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports in 2013."

Ambrose said he wants to sign a contract extension "as quickly as we can," but indicated RPM had to "get their own house in order" by re-signing with Ford first.

RPM said it will field two Cup cars next year – the No. 9, with sponsorship from Stanley and DeWalt, and the No. 43, with sponsorship from Smithfield Foods. However, the team did not say which drivers would be in those cars (Ambrose currently drives the 9 and Aric Almirola is in the 43).

The team will continue to field a Nationwide Series entry for Michael Annett, who brings sponsorship from Pilot/Flying J.

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Tony Stewart talks Prelude hiatus, Trucks rumors

The Prelude to the Dream charity race at Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway won't be on the calendar in 2013, but it may return in the future, Stewart told reporters Friday at Kansas Speedway.

"It takes a ton of work to put the Prelude on," he said. "We're changing our format for how we run the Dream (Late Model race) that weekend, making it a three-day weekend with that series. We're trying to focus on that a little bit more and some changes we think are going to be better for our Late Model race.

"We just needed to take a year off while we focus on that and make sure we don't get overloaded on that."

As far as the ESPN.com report that the Camping World Truck Series could hold a race on Eldora's dirt next season, Stewart indicated he'd love for it to happen – but it doesn't sound like talks have been very serious.

"Trust me, I would be ecstatic if we could get any NASCAR race at Eldora," he said. "That would be great. I've talked to NASCAR, and they've been looking at all kinds of different tracks. It's been brought up in conversation, but that's about as far as it's come right now."

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Clint Bowyer hoping for home track party

Deep into the celebration that accompanied his most recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph, Clint Bowyer noticed that something was amiss. The affable seventh-year driver for Michael Waltrip Racing had just made an unconventional walk to Victory Lane after burning off the last bit of fuel in his No. 15 Toyota, but now there was a new issue.

"There was a guy, I'll never forget it, he was right down to my left -- red hat, red shirt, and he was in every Victory Lane picture. He's doing the number one, he'd switch hats and finally I said, 'who is this guy?' " Bowyer explained Tuesday during a fan question and answer session at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

After the interloper -- who said he had permission from team owner Michael Waltrip to join the party at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- was found out to be a fraud, he was eventually escorted from the scene, but not before getting into a few more photos. "So he was in most of our team pictures," Bowyer said. "Mysterious man."

The Charlotte gate-crasher isn't the only one getting the "who is this guy?" treatment after Bowyer's third victory of the year catapulted him back into the thick of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title race. It also couldn't come at a better time for Bowyer, who hopes to build on the best season of his career as the Chase postseason hits his home state for the Hollywood Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Kansas Speedway.

Bowyer had missed the Chase in two of the previous three seasons when he joined MWR -- a team that had never made NASCAR's playoffs -- to start the 2012 campaign. The pairing has exceeded expectations and then some, crashing the Chase party with three wins and a fourth-place position in the standings, 28 points behind leader Brad Keselowski with five races left in the season.

As momentous as Saturday's victory was for Bowyer in the backyard of most NASCAR teams, a Kansas win would rate just as highly for the Sunflower State native.

"Coming off of the win obviously rolling into your hometown is a lot of fun," Bowyer said. "A lot of confidence, a lot of momentum, everything that comes off of a win, but to be able to do it rolling into home at Kansas is very special."

Bowyer and the rest of the Sprint Cup field should benefit from extra track time on the repaved 1.5-mile track, which replaced its surface and reconfigured its banking after the April 22 STP 400. Teams were scheduled to test the new asphalt Wednesday and Thursday before Friday's practice and qualifying sessions.

Despite that wrinkle, expect the laid-back Bowyer to roll with whatever extra challenge Kansas throws his way. It's also safe to expect a bigger party with more unexpected guests should a popular home-state win unfold.

"It would be big. I'd probably just invite the whole grandstand to come down and be in Victory Lane," Bowyer said. "I mean, one wasn't enough in Charlotte. We need everybody."

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Denny Hamlin 'dizzy' after Kansas crash

Denny Hamlin was right.

His hard crash at Kansas Speedway during Thursday's NASCAR Sprint Cup test session -- and two subsequent trips to the Infield Care Center -- probably wouldn't have attracted much attention if it hadn't been for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

On Aug. 29, Earnhardt likewise suffered a similar hit at the 1.5-mile track. Earnhardt admitted later that he had suffered a concussion during the crash, and after another wreck Oct. 7 at Talladega -- and another concussion -- Earnhardt sought medical attention and ultimately was sidelined from competition for at least two weeks, forcing him to miss races at Charlotte and Kansas.

"If Dale Jr.'s incident wouldn't have happened," Hamlin told reporters outside the care center, "I don't think any of y'all would be here."

Hamlin lost control of his car in Turn 1 during the first hour of testing and slammed into the Turn 2 wall.

"It was the third lap on sticker (new) tires, and a little treacherous, and really, I just clipped the right rear on the outside wall on corner entry," Hamlin said. "When I did, it just shot the car to the apron. I tried to correct and overcorrected got into the outside fence."

Hamlin said he felt slightly dizzy after the wreck, and though he drove his No. 11 Toyota back to the garage, a NASCAR official examined the car, which was damaged beyond repair, and recommended a visit to the infield car center.

Hamlin complied, was examined and was instructed to return an hour later for follow-up. By the time Hamlin made his second visit to the care center, his symptoms had passed, and he was cleared to return to the track in a backup car.

"There were a couple of NASCAR officials that analyze the car after a wreck," Hamlin said. "[A NASCAR official] looked at the car and said that it would probably be wise to go, after looking at the car. Obviously, the car's destroyed pretty good."

Fellow Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer witnessed the wreck and testified to its magnitude.

"I was pulling on the race track and I saw him," Bowyer said. "He was sideways way, way early, and I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Then I saw him get on the apron, and he was in trouble, man. He hit hard -- real hard."

Hamlin wouldn't concede that his two visits to the doctors represented increased vigilance on NASCAR's part in the aftermath of Earnhardt's two concussions, but he couldn't remember ever having been sent to the care center after driving back to the garage. This was the first time he had ever been asked to return to the care center for reevaluation.

"Just standard procedure, really -- nothing different from than I've ever seen before," Hamlin said after exiting the care center for the second time. "I was just slightly dizzy after the first hit. After that, just came back, and everything's cleared right up. So it's definitely good. I feel fine now...

"I talked to ‘em (the doctors), and they said they have reevaluations all the time. The reevaluate with me each wreck, through text messages, to ask how you're doing and everything. But simply because of the speed of the impact, I think they were just trying to be safe and asking me how I felt, and I was honest with them and said I was a little dizzy.

"And they said, ‘Well, come back in an hour and make sure you're OK.'... It was the first time I really had some dizziness after a hit. Usually, I'm sore, or your jaw hurts from clenching your jaw, things like that, but this was the first time I got really dizzy."

The car Hamlin wrecked was the one he had intended to race in Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas. Driving that same chassis, Hamlin won the second Chase race, Sept. 23 at New Hampshire, leading 193 of 300 laps in the process.

The backup car he'll drive this weekend last raced in the Chase opener Sept. 16 at Chicagoland, where Hamlin ran near the front of the field all afternoon before running out of fuel and finishing 16th.

MURPHY'S LAW


Denny Hamlin's wreck wasn't the only incident in an eventful test session. Casey Mears' No. 13 Ford twice dropped oil on the track, forcing the Germain Racing team to abandon the test car and bring out the primary that will race on Sunday.

"Strange issue today," Mears posted on his Twitter account. "Motor fine? Pumping oil out for some reason?"

As reporters were waiting for Hamlin after his second visit to the care center, the engine blew in Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, again oiling the track, forcing the team to change power plants.

Because of the series of stoppages, NASCAR extended the test session an extra 25 minutes to 1:55 p.m. ET. Regan Smith, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr., posted the fastest lap at 186.143 mph.

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