March 10th, 2013
“KOBALT Tools 400”
Las Vegas, Nevada – The Sprint Cup Series drove to “Sin City” for the third round of the season. Denny Hamlin (11) was fined this past week, for saying comments that were detrimental to the sport. NASCAR was not pleased when he made comments about the new car. He claimed the GEN6 was not as good as their GEN5 cars. Qualifying was rained out, so the starting spots were set by last year’s owner points. Brad Keselowski (2) got the pole and Clint Bowyer (15) started second. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) ran a special paint scheme, with the AMP orange car. The race was scheduled for 267 laps, for the 400 mile race. Temperatures were in the upper sixties at the beginning of the race, and were expected to get into the seventies before the races end.
During the “Opening Ceremonies,” The Invocation was provided by Kurt Schulke. The “National Anthem” was sung by Marie Osmond. The Grand Marshal for the race was Rick Coffee. The United States Thunderbirds performed a fly-over of the Speedway.
A few drivers found themselves with poor handling cars at the start. Clint Bowyer (15) and Greg Biffle (16) both lost multiple positions in the early laps. Speeds were fast on the Vegas Motor Speedway as they topped 202 mph into turn one. Everyone made green flag stops at/or near lap 49. During the stop J.J. Yeley (36), Joey Lagono (22) and Kyle Busch (18) were all penalized for speeding on entry to pit road. They each had to make a drive-thru on pit road a second time.
On lap 65, NASCAR threw a yellow flag for debris on the backstretch. The debris was never shown to the TV viewers. During the pit stops, Greg Biffle’s team was penalized for an uncontrolled tire on pit road. It was stated on lap 102, the track speed was averaging 160 mph. If this kept pace the rest of the race, they would break the standing record of 141 mph average.
Another round of green flag stops came near lap 118. Denny Hamlin (11) was penalized for speeding on entry to pit road. He was the second JGR car to get a speeding penalty on the first section of pit road. At the mid-point of the race, three of the four Hendrick Race cars were in the top five. Hendrick teammates Johnson and Kahne had led the majority of the race, while Earnhardt Jr. had been right there in the top six spots as well.
On lap 160, NASCAR threw another yellow flag for Marcus Ambrose (9) sliding his car past pit road entry. He did not spin out, nor did he cause anyone else to make changes. There really was no reason for the caution, other than the field had separated quite a bit. The top three cars had nearly a twelve second lead.
On the re-start Kyle Busch (18) started on row two. He ran into Kasey Kahne’s car to get him to move up the track and slow up. Busch then ran Kahne and Johnson up the track to take the lead. The over aggressive driving habits of Busch are well known, but most drivers rather move out of his way, than be wrecked by him.
On lap 195, Bobby Labonte (47) spun out near turn two. This brought out the third caution of the race. At this point Kasey Kahne has led the most laps. The average speed was still over 156 mph with only sixty plus laps left at the re-start. The race was definitely coming down to Gibbs vs Hendrick Racing for the top spots. Each team has three cars a piece in the top six.
The word of the day was “Loose.” Nearly every driver told their crew chief they had a loose condition at some point of the race. The track had warmed up and the cars really started to skate around.
On lap 223, Travis Kvapil (93) had an engine failure on track. The fifth caution flew on lap 235, when Ryan Newman’s (39) engine let go. This was his second engine failure in as many weeks. Matt Kenseth (20) held the lead with less than thirty laps in the race. He was hoping for a victory on his 41st birthday today.
Matt Kenseth (20) was able to hold off Kasey Kahne (5) for the win, on his 41st Birthday at Vegas. This was Kenneth’s third win at the track as well.
The rest of the top ten were: Brad Keselowski (2), Kyle Busch (18), Carl Edwards (99), Jimmie Johnson (48), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88), Martin Truex Jr. (56), Kevin Harvick (29) and Paul Menard (27). The average speed for the race ended up being 146 mph.
The next race will be at Bristol on Sunday. The Food City 500 will be run on the fastest half mile track. They will start at 12:30 PM on Fox.