Matt Kenseth Wins Rain-Filled Event at Chicagoland to Begin NASCAR Chase For The Spring Cup
Matt Kenseth‘s best season in NASCAR is continuing, for now at least. Kenseth entered victory lane at approximately midnight on Monday morning as he won the Geico 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. His victory marks his sixth of the season, which is the most he’s won since 2002, where he won five races.
Kenseth led a race-high 89 laps en route to victory. Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing team had a decent car at the beginning of the race, but after a rain delay that exceeded five hours, his car powered to the front of the pack. His teammate Kyle Busch also had a strong car, yet he couldn’t pass Kenseth on the last restart. The latter got a push from Kevin Harvick to get him the lead.
The 13 drivers within the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup each had some interesting moments throughout the race. Jeff Gordon, who was leading at one point, had to pit due to a flat left rear tire which put him a lap down. Gordon’s chances of finishing in the top-20 were doubtful with less than 50 laps to go, but with the lead lap cars pitting, he stayed out and was fortunate enough to have a caution.
The caution was thrown as his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun out and blew an engine, putting him as the 13th driver in the standings entering New Hampshire.
Joey Logano had a dominant car early, but after the red flag, his No. 22 Ford went down a cylinder. Logano’s engine blew up on lap 175, causing him to finish 37th. Cole Whitt, making his first start for Swan Racing, also blew an engine. Whitt’s engine basically exploded as his car erupted in flames on the backstretch.
The only accidents in the race were a pair of spins for Justin Allgaier, making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the No. 51 Chevrolet. Both spins weren’t much of Allgaier’s doing. The second one collected Paul Menard, yet somehow both drivers were able to save their cars from hitting the wall.
Something to look out for was the way Kurt Busch ran. Busch went a lap down after speeding during a green flag pit stop early in the race. Arguably the largest underdog in the Chase, Busch was able to race his way back to the fourth position before the race ended. Ryan Newman capitalized on being added to NASCAR’s version of the playoffs as he drove his car to the top-10 after running barely inside of the top-20 for the majority of the race.
After all of the drama that the NASCAR world saw throughout the past week, the race at Chicagoland was far less dramatic. Even though the race didn’t go on as planned, the fans waited around for several hours to watch their favorite drivers race for what could be one of the only mulligans for two of the 13 drivers which had trouble during the race.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.