By: Billy Tewes
The Silent Assassin was in elite form today as Matt Kenseth held off a mounting charge from the #5 car of Kasey Kahne. Kenseth took home his 3rd Las Vegas trophy after leading 42 laps. The Wisconsin native would win his 25th career race on his 41st birthday; which would also be a first at Joe Gibbs Racing!
Matt Kenseth’s skill as a driver was the main reason he came home the victor. Matt Kenseth started 18th and methodically worked his way through the field to reach the top 5. The final stretch of the race saw Kenseth on much older tires than the rest of the competition. Kenseth held off a strong challenge from Kasey Kahne who led 114 laps prior to giving up the lead to Kenseth. It seemed as if Kahne was going to blow past Kenseth after the final stop, but Kenseth held on just long enough to take home the victory. For nearly 30 laps, Kasey Kahne was no further than a car length away from Kenseth’s back bumper. Talk about tight racing! Strategy would be an integral part in Kenseth’s team putting him in position to win.
On the final pit stop of the day Kenseth took fuel only, while most of the field took at least two tires. The #20 team rolled the dice, knowing that other drivers would have fresher tires. Just like last week, pit crew strategy put a driver in the prime spot to win the race. Fortunately for Kenseth, his car handled better than many other drivers who complained about ill handling race cars throughout the day.
Even though drivers complained about loose handling race cars, the aero push drivers experienced the last two weeks was not as significant. Clint Bowyer started 2nd and dropped to 20th in the running order after telling his crew his car was loose. Loose is a handling condition where a driver accelerates through the turn and instead of going forward, slides the back tires. The car then slides up the track and if the driver doesn’t lift off the gas they might crash. Other drivers such as Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Danica Patrick got loose and slid up into the wall, finishing and 18th and 33rd respectively.
This video explains the two different handling situations drivers encounter throughout a race.
As I noted in my previous blog, Las Vegas would be another test for the new generation six car. Drivers passed with ease and the last 30 laps were absolutely worth watching even for people who do not like Nascar. The generation six car was designed for 1.5 mile tracks to generate better racing and more passing. The race itself was entertaining and we are starting to see the positive side of the freshly designed car.
Bristol Motor Speedway is next up on the Sprint Cup Schedule. The half mile coliseum of Nascar is the most exciting race and hardest ticket to get in all of Nascar. The track is notorious for accidents because of the high banked turns and the fact that drivers complete a lap in under 15 seconds! I’ve been to Bristol and if I chose one race to go to every year it would be Bristol Motor Speedway!
Bristol Motor Speedway in all of its glory!