By: Billy Tewes
Matt Kenseth flexed his muscles late and Jason Ratcliff put him into position late to win the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky. The final pit stop which came out for Brian Vickers’ flat tire with 26 to go, put Kenseth in the lead as Ratcliff called for no tires while everyone else took two. On the final restart Johnson got loose entering turn one and spun out. Kenseth held off a late charge by Jamie McMurray who seemingly came out of nowhere to challenge Kenseth. Had he not been slightly held up by Clint Bowyer, he may have passed Kenseth for the win!
This race was supposed to take place last night, but was rained out for Sunday morning which may make it one of the only Kentucky races to ever be ran during the day as opposed to night. Kenseth got his first Kentucky win in three tries and this win marks the fourth win on the 2013 season. Huge championship implications as Kenseth is going to try to win as many races as he possibly can to separate himself from the rest of the field come chase time.
Kenseth stated in victory lane that he thought Ratcliff was “slightly crazy” for making the call. I have been very critical of Jason Ratcliff this season as I think he has cost Kenseth a win at Lowes and a few top 10s due to poor strategy call. But when I heard Ratcliff was going to put Kenseth in clean air, I knew he made the right call. Clean air is king with this gen 6 car and the gamble paid off.
Race dominator Jimmie Johnson ended up finishing 9th after spinning himself out. Johnson complained about Kenseth’s restart. Kenseth was slightly slow on the restart; however, he still leads them to the green flag. Johnson has nothing to cry about here as he knows the rules. And like Kyle Petty said in today’s broadcast, “I hate to be a smartaleck, but I’m going to be, let’s just let Jimmie write the restart rules on how to do it because nobody does it right, everybody else does it wrong, he’s the only one who gets it because he’s complained all year about restarts.” Basically Jimmie, let NASCAR take care of the rules, they’ve been in the business longer and have been pretty fair in governing the sport.
A controversial point in today’s race came when Kurt Busch swept down to the apron to gain momentum on Brad Keselowski and ended up clipping his left rear quarter panel which sent Keselowski down the apron and back up into the track. Keselowski collected Greg Biffle and Dave Blaney in the process. All drivers were ok but Keselowski’s chase hopes took a hit as fell out of the top 10 to 13th.
All of the Cup series excitement heads down to Daytona for the 4th of July weekend Coke Zero 400. The 400 miler is the final wild card before the chase and it will be a game of survival for some of the drivers like Kahne, Gordon, Keselowski and Kurt Busch who are right on the edge of making it in to the chase.
According to driver ratings, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are the most powerful drivers at Daytona. Both were incredibly strong during the 500 this year and if it weren’t for blown motors within a lap of each other, one of them may have very well been in victory lane. Now that the gen 6 car has been to two plate races this year, we’ll be able to see if drivers race a little harder with that gained knowledge.
The Mayhem under the lights at Daytona!