Where other NASCAR drivers were using a strategy of staying in the back to avoid problems, Matt Kenseth raced hard to stay at or near the front. Matt avoids the big one and goes on to win the race. Matt said, “Since the evolution of changing these cars and making them where we can pass better or in a bigger pack and all that stuff. The first couple years we try to make a strategy. Let’s all hang back. Let’s go up front, but if it looks scary, let’s go to the back. Honestly, we got tired of it, so I think Jimmy and I talked about it last July before Daytona. We decided the fans pay a lot of money to watch us race. These guys pay me money to drive the race car fast. We just race hard every lap. We try to qualify the best we can. Go up, try to lead the most laps we can, and put ourselves in position to win the race, and not really worry about all that.”
The race was typical of most restrictor plate races with the cars running around follow the leader style sometimes 3 and four wide but most of the times two wide. Some of the drivers went to the back and were in a separate pack of cars. This strategy made for the race to be boring.
At one point Kurt Busch was leading the race in his last ride in the 51 Phoenix Racing team car when he ran out of gas, got spun and hit the inside wall. He got out of the car, surveyed the damage. He saw that it could be repaired so he got back into the car to drive it back to the garage. While he was getting back into the car NASCAR Safety crews arrived and were attending to him. He started driving back to the garage with his helmet off, a safety crew member reaching in the car, and his safety equipment on the roof. It looked like another moment of Kurt Busch disrespecting someone. NASCAR told him to stop but he did not have his helmet on to hear the command. Whether it was a misunderstanding or not we will never know. Regardless, NASCAR parked the team for the rest of the race.
Kurt Busch described what happened, “I got out of the car and surveyed the damage, saw that it could still roll so I jumped back in. I remembered with these engines they will run at 20 percent of fuel pressure to get it back to the garage. So I tried like heck. That is the competitor in me, which is the desire that I have and that is what gets misconstrued all the time. This is the way my life works. Today is a perfect example. I am leading, I wreck, I run out of gas, I’m still that competitive guy that tried to get back in the race and now NASCAR is yelling at me because I don’t have my helmet on and I’m trying to get it to the garage so the guys can work on it. Now I’m in trouble, now I have this little storm right here. This is my life. I’m not complaining I put myself in a lot of these situations, but it’s on to good things now moving forward. I got all the bad luck out of the way. This year has been a great year to test me in every way.”
On the final lapTony Stewart was leading the race, had a run and was way out front of the pack. He moved down to the inside to block cutting into Michael Waltrip turning himself and wrecking 20 cars. Tony Said, “”I just screwed up. I turned down across, I think it was Michael (Waltrip) and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was at. So, I take 100% of the blame.”
Brad Keselowski missed the big wreck and finished 6th and now leads the standings by 14 points. Jimmie Johnson was in the wreck, finished 17th. Denny Hamlin was in the wreck, finished 14th and is 23 points behind Brad. Matt Kenseth in spite of winning the race is still 12th in the standings 62 points from first.
Jeff Gordon was second, Kyle Busch third, David Ragan fourth, and Regan Smith fifth.
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