There’s a lot of racing left in 2013, but the NASCAR Sprint Cup season doesn’t feature a race lacking importance. Add the STP 400 to the list of must-watch events.
Kansas City was home to the STP 400 again this year, and the race lived up to its intriguing storylines.
With a nearly flawless performance in Kansas City, Matt Kenseth took his No. 20 car from start to finish in first place with the lead most of the race, en route to a huge win at the Kansas Speedway on Sunday. He was the third straight driver to win a race after starting with the pole position.
One of the biggest concerns heading into the race was how well Kansas Speedway’s new surface would hold up to 267 laps. While it didn’t exactly steal the headlines, it certainly played a role in the amount of wrecks and cautions we saw throughout the race.
As the Kansas City Globe pointed out on Twitter, cautions caused some havoc very early on:
Kansas City Globe @KansasCityGlobe
STP 400 goes under caution again (3rd time, I think) @ Kansas Speedway. Less than 200 laps left. S.R., reporter, etc. (Kansas City Globe)4/21/2013, 6:04:52 PM
It was to be expected, though. Last year at Kansas Speedway, the STP 400 yielded 14 cautions throughout the race, making it one of the more interesting events of the Sprint Cup season. That particular race was among the best of the entire 2012 season.
This year's cautions didn’t slow Kenseth, however. The No. 20 car had the pole to start the race and held the lead throughout the first half. As Fox Sports’ NASCAR Twitter account pointed out, Kenseth dominated the early action:
FOX SPORTS: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX
It's been catch Kenseth all day long so far today. #NASCAR4/21/2013, 6:04:52 PM
Several cars failed to pit near the midway point, however, and Kenseth restarted in the fifth spot with Brad Keselowski leading. It wouldn’t be long before Kenseth was back in contention for the lead, but he would have to battle it out with Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson started the race in the 21st position, but he wouldn’t remain in that spot for long. After working his way to the front of the pack, the No. 48 car took the lead in Lap 148, as NASCAR Updates noted on Twitter:
nascar updates @updates_nascar
Lap 148 new leader. Jimmie Johnson. B484/21/2013, 7:01:57 PM
It wouldn’t be long before Johnson faded to No. 2, however. Martin Truex Jr. passed him in the 167th lap to take the lead (via David Carabali):
Fernando Monroy @FernandoMonroyN
Lap 167 of 267: Johnson is now 2nd!!! #NASCAR #NASCARDC #NSCS #STP4004/21/2013, 7:12:24 PM
Johnson and Kenseth faded back to seventh and eight (respectively) by that time, though, and with 80 laps to go, a caution allowed Carl Edwards to slingshot into the lead.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. jumped out into the lead in the lap that followed, but Kenseth again emerged from the group to take third and then second directly behind Stenhouse (via Joe Gibbs Racing):
Joe Gibbs Racing @JoeGibbsRacing
Kenseth goes from 8th to 3rd in a lap! What a move! 48 back in 7th. This is our chance to get a lead. #NASCAR4/21/2013, 7:32:48 PM
With 51 laps to go, Stenhouse was forced to pit to refuel and re-tire, and Kenseth once again took the lead, this time with Kasey Kahne moving into second place. The momentum wouldn’t last, however, as the race’s eighth caution came out with 50 laps to go.
Following yet another caution, Kenseth came out firing to retain his lead with just 42 laps to go. Nothing went quite as expected in the race’s final 100 laps, but the No. 20 car was as close to a sure things as fans saw on Sunday.
The biggest reason for that was Kenseth’s incredible performance on restarts following the race’s bevy of cautions (as Yahoo! Sports’ Nick Bromberg pointed out):
Nick Bromberg @NickBromberg
The gap that Matt Kenseth puts on the field on restarts today is astounding4/21/2013, 7:58:28 PM
Kahne made it an exciting finish in the final laps, but Kenseth ultimately held on for a big victory at Kansas Speedway. His was the only Joe Gibbs car to place near the top of the board.
Kahne and Johnson rounded out the top three of the field and Truex and Clint Bowyer finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
|56||Martin Truex Jr.|
*Full results can be found at NASCAR.com.