Kenseth wins Chicagoland marathon Chase opener, others falter
The Scoop: Matt Kenseth gets it done again. The wins leader, thus the points leader entering this start to the Chase, Kenseth started the race 10th, fell back to 14th, but eventually worked into the top 5 and then the lead. The GEICO 400 started an hour late because of rain, then Joey Logano (37th) led the first 32 laps, but succumbed late in the race to engine woes. Jimmie Johnson (5th) appeared to be the car to beat, as he charged to the lead after the competition caution, but later pit stop woes set him back in the field on two different restarts. Once he settled in the top 5, he got freight-trained on restarts. Runner-up finisher Kyle Busch dominated the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series events and led 67 laps Sunday, but Kenseth beat him on the last restart. Much like one would expect, Kevin Harvick came to life late in the race to place 3rd over Kurt Busch. Late addition to the Chase Jeff Gordon was impressive, again overcoming a flat tire during a gren flag run to place 6th. Chasers Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, and Kasey Kahne had varying degrees of luck to finish 9th through 12th. Greg Biffle thought he had motor problems, fell back on the last pit stop, and finished 16th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (35th) and teammate Kahne collided on pit road, taking the No. 88 from contention. But an engine also did in Earnhardt Jr., putting he and Logano 53 and 52 points respectively out of first place in points Kenseth. They both are highly unlikely to win their first championships. Kurt Busch overcame a green flag pit road speeding penalty that put him a lap down. Many cautions in the day and night race allowed Busch, Gordon, and others plenty of chances to take wave arounds and make up the ground they lost. Cole Whitt's spin brought out a caution on lap 109 and with that came rain. The red flag lasted five hours and racing resumed under the lights at 10 p.m. with Kenseth in the lead. Engine failures also struck Whitt, Denny Hamlin, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, and Timmy Hill. That makes eight - all of which came during the night race. The higher speeds in the cooler night temperatures could have been a factor. Nine cautions slowed the race.
RaceTweet: Kenseth wins water logged Chase opener at Chicago over teammate Kyle Busch. Enignes not loving the night. G'nite Logano and Dale Jr.
Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Matt Kenseth - Won, led most laps, led when leading mattered, overcame struggles early in the race, and opened an eight point lead over Kyle Busch. Kenseth, now with win number six, is at his best at age 40 in his first year with a new team.
North Korean Missile Dud: Joey Logano - He spent just less than one race as a Chase for the Cup contender. Sunday's engine woes were not his fault at all, but have him 12th in points, 52 markers out. ESPN analyst Ricky Craven's "Rule of 72" dooms Logano and Earnhardt Jr. According to the rule, when a driver's finishes in the Chase add up to a number that equals or exceeds 72, then they are out of contention. In Logano's case, he needs to average a finish of 2.78 in the final nine races to not hit 72. Good luck.
You Can Comeback, But You Can't Stay Here: Finishers 4-6 - Kurt Busch overcame green flag pit road speeding penalty to move from 29th to 4th. Johnson had a pit road officiating mistake during a green flag stop before the rain delay and a broken jack during a yelow flag stop after the delay - he finished 5th and easily could have won. Gordon pitted under green with a soft tire, but a quick yellow after that set him up to drive back up to 6th.
Wheel of Misfortune: Denny Hamlin - A blown engine sidelined the No. 11 for 2nd time in three races. Hamlin hasn't finished higher than 20th since Watkins Glen, hasn't scored a top 10 since the first Pocono race, and is risking going winless for first time in his 8th full-time season. What an unlucky '13 for driver 11.
Ghost Driver: Jamie McMurray - He finished an invisible 19th and, I'm fairly certain, was never on TV during a green flag lap.
Never Fear, Underdog is Here: Danica Patrick - The No. 10 lost a lap early, but Patrick got it back in a sequence of frequent cautions and drove up to and stayed both on the lead lap and in 20th. Stewart-Haas Racing is a big team, but a top 20 for Patrick is like a top 5 for most drivers.
Georgia On My Mind: David Ragan had a decent 19th place starting spot and hung just inside the top 30, had a late race pit road speeding penalty, and finished 26th. Reed Sorenson, in his 2nd race replacing Scott Speed in the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford, start and parked to 42nd. In Saturday's NNS race, Sorenson and the No. 40 Chevy had fuel issues and finished 28 laps down in 33rd. Brett Butler got wrecked and finished 34th. Friday night's NCWTS race at Chicagoland saw John Wes Townley score a career-best 6th place run, with Max Gresham placing 19th and Ryan Sieg 21st.
NNS RaceTweet: Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch. Can really drive. Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch.
NCWTS RaceTweet: Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski almost got first Trucks win. Kyle Busch almost fell out of truck on burnout.