Long day and night ended well for Kenseth. (LAT photo)
Matt Kenseth claimed the early advantage in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase by winning a delayed Chicagoland race.
Heavy rain showers meant an event originally due to commence at midday local time finally finished at 11 p.m. The start was delayed nearly two hours as efforts to dry the track took place, and then further rain forced a red flag stoppage of over five hours on lap 109 of 267.
Kenseth had usurped Jimmie Johnson atop the championship just as the points were reset at Richmond last week. He and Joe Gibbs teammate Kyle Busch made their way to the front during the “daytime” segment of the Chicagoland race and led the majority of laps when it eventually resumed under the lights.
Busch was ahead at the final restart 20 laps from the end, and had a shot at sweeping the weekend following Truck and Nationwide wins. But Kenseth got the better run at the green and took the lead, then established enough of a cushion to keep Busch at bay to the flag.
Richard Childress Racing’s Kevin Harvick fended off Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson for third.
Both Harvick’s pursuers had to fight back from pit delays. Busch was infuriated by a speeding penalty, while Johnson was erroneously held by an official suspecting a lugnut issue at his second stop and then later had a problem with his Hendrick Chevrolet’s jack.
His teammate Jeff Gordon came back from a puncture for sixth, followed by Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman.
Polesitter Joey Logano led early on but was one of several drivers to suffer an engine failure, a fate shared by fellow Chase contender Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a very disgruntled Denny Hamlin.
Results - 267 laps:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 3h10m56.000s 2. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +0.749s 3. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +3.626s 4. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +3.808s 5. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +4.704s 6. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +4.871s 7. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +5.065s 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +6.856s 9. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +8.254s10. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +8.712s11. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +10.966s12. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +12.236s13. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +12.713s14. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +13.348s15. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +14.700s16. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +15.533s17. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +15.814s18. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +16.713s19. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevolet +17.638s20. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +18.499s21. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Toyota +19.386s22. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +20.085s23. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +23.877s24. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +1 lap25. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +1 lap26. David Ragan Front Row Ford +1 lap27. Justin Allgaier Phoenix Chevrolet +1 lap28. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +1 lap29. Landon Cassill Hilman Chevrolet +1 lap30. Casey Mears Germain Ford +1 lap31. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota +1 lap32. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevolet +6 lapsRetirements: Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 247 laps Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford 225 laps Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 224 laps David Reutimann BK Toyota 195 laps Joey Logano Penske Ford 175 laps Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 161 laps Cole Whitt Swan Toyota 151 laps Tony Raines Circle Sport Chevrolet 87 laps Josh Wise Front Row Ford 84 laps Reed Sorenson Leavine Ford 68 laps Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 29 laps