Gordon takes the cake at Kansas, while the little guys go boom
Race Capsule: Jeff Gordon has been the most consistent driver in 2014, with his only bad finish being last race at Talladega. He's the winningest active driver in the Sprint Cup Series. He'd won the first two races at Kansas Speedway in 2001 and 2002. But the wins haven't come often for the veteran in recent years. The monkey is off his back now. Gordon overcame some lost track position (because of yellow flags falling during green flag sequences) and the faster car of Kevin Harvick (2nd) to win his 89th career race and first of the season Saturday night at Kansas. Gordon only led the final eight laps and only led nine all night and inherited the lead after some off-sequence drivers pitted for fuel in the final laps. Harvick would have been the leader, but told reporters after the race he lost the lead because he didn't get onto pit road fast enough and lost some time. The race was kind of wild, actually, with several drivers struggling with handling and the Goodyear tires. Clint Bowyer (23rd), Talladega winner Denny Hamlin (18th), Kurt Busch twice (29th), David Ragan (38th), Marcos Ambrose (24th), and A.J. Allmendinger (30th) each spun out without being run into, making for a slew of yellow flags. Ragan's spin on lap 61 of the 267-lap 5-Hour Energy 400 collected fellow small team drivers Landon Cassill (42nd), Ryan Truex (43rd), and Michael Annett (25th). Allmendinger's No. 47 broke loose on lap 188 and caused a scary collision between Justin Allgaier (36th) and David Gilliland (37th). Up front, Harvick was the man most of the night, normally only ceding the lead during pit sequences. A poorly-timed caution did mire the No. 4 Jimmy John's Chevy back in traffic at one point, but the fall Kansas winner clawed back up from 19th and almost nipped Jeff Gordon at the checkered flag. The rest of the top 10 were Kasey Kahne (led 22 laps), Joey Logano (led 63 laps), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (led nine laps), Carl Edwards (led six laps), Danica Patrick (career-best finish), Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson (led 24 laps), and Matt Kenseth (led one lap, after running in back of the top 20 most of the night).
RaceTweet: Jeff Gordon finally wins, but does for 3rd time at Kansas. "Closer" Harvick almost gets him at the end. The fastest doesn't always win.
Handsome Boy Modeling School "Stud of the Race": Kevin Harvick - He led the most laps in the race (119), started on the pole, gained back all the lost track position lost during a caution, and again showed that his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing piece is the best in the field.
North Korean Missile Dud of the Race: Clint Bowyer - The Emporia, Kansas native wants little more than to win for his hometown crowd. His primary sponsor was even the sponsor of the race, but that did little to help Bowyer. The No. 15 spun on its own early on lap 48 and finished 23rd, three laps down. Bowyer now sits 20th in points - and hasn't won since fall 2012.
You Can Comeback, But You Can't Stay Here: Matt Kenseth - Slow and steady wins the race...or at least gets you 10th. The Joe Gibbs Racing cars were not fast for most of the night, but by the end of the Kansas race, the winner a year ago Kenseth was in 10th place and finished about 10 spots higher than he ran for most of the night. The No. 20 car may not be a winner just yet, but the finishes show that the driver is lifting the team on his shoulders and carrying them. Wheel of Misfortune: Justin Allgaier - Kansas marked the third-straight race that the No. 51 HSM team was running better than it should have been and then got in trouble. Allgaier was running just outside the top 15, which is impressive for a small team on a 1.5-mile track with a rookie driver. But when Allmendinger lost control of his car, he smacked into Allgaier, who slid up the track and hard into David Gilliland. Both drivers walked away unhurt, but this bad finish combined with the last-lap Talladega wreck and the disappointing fade at Richmond make for more heartbreak for this team.
Never Fear, Underdog is Here: Danica Patrick - Saturday was a career night for Patrick, who battled hard and literally ran in the top 10 the entire night, finishing 7th. She drives good equipment and everyone in the sport know that she is the piece that has made her more of a 25th-place driver than 10th. But Patrick qualified well (9th), raced hard, didn't wreck, and gained a lot of respect. Her previous best finish was 8th at last year's Daytona 500.
Head-Scratcher Crown of Thorns: Kurt Busch - While his teammates were turning heads running near the front, Busch spun twice - once on his own and again with a cut tire - to record another poor finish. Busch has had numerous doses of bad luck, including getting wrecked at Talladega last week. This begs to wonder if Busch is pushing too hard, as he did when he drove the No. 51 two years ago, and puts himself in these spots. The good news for the No. 41 team is that they have a win to lean on and likely use to make the Chase.
Georgia on My Mind: David Ragan's ride got crunched for the second-straight week, as he lost control of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford and collected several others. Ragan's damage was mostly to the rear, so his team repaired the car and sent him out to finish 96 laps down in 38th. Reed Sorenson's No. 36 Chevy was nowhere near the speed of the fast leaders and fell a lap down early. He ended up six laps down in 32nd. The Camping World Truck Series race Friday night was a wreck fest and a half. But the oft-wreck-happy John Wes Townley finished ahead of the mess and placed 11th - he sits 10th in points after three races. The Nationwide Series was off for the weekend.
NCWTS RaceTweet: Kyle Busch wins the Kansas ARCA...er...Truck race, which saw more almost as many wrecked trucks as passes for the lead.