Matt Kenseth wins opening Chase race at Chicago
Sunday, September 15, 2013
JOLIET, Ill. — Matt Kenseth restored order to a chaotic week for NASCAR with a steely victory over teammate Kyle Busch in the opening race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Kenseth went into Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway as the top seed in the field. But he flew completely under the radar while last week’s attempts by at least three teams to manipulate the results at Richmond took center stage of the opening race of the Chase.
He had to wait out two rain delays that totaled six hours, 30 minutes and passed Busch on a restart with 27 laps remaining.
Busch finished second for a 1-2 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota.
Kevin Harvick was third as Chase drivers grabbed the top six spots.
One Chase driver who struggled was Joey Logano, who went from the front to the back of the pack.
The pole-sitter was forced to drop out of the race when his engine quit with 91 laps remaining. About 50 laps later, Dale Earnhardt Jr., another Chase qualifier, wound up following him onto pit road with a race-ending problem of his own.
Logano finished 37th, a tough start to NASCAR’s 10-race, season-ending playoff series.
“I am pretty angry,” Logano said. “That was such a fast race car we had.”
Logano qualified for the Chase for the first time this year, and was embroiled in the scandal-plagued race at Richmond last weekend. After a wide-ranging investigation, NASCAR officials punished Michael Waltrip Racing for its role in manipulating the race.
Logano wound up benefiting from the maneuvers by other drivers trying to aid a teammate. His Penske Racing team was placed on probation Friday for its role in bargaining for track position at Richmond to get Logano in the Chase.
But Logano’s problems Sunday night were all on the track. He had gone to pit road once before his exit, complaining of cylinder problems with his Ford.
“Unfortunately the motor blew up. You have these every once in a while,” said Logano, teammate of defending series champion Brad Keselowski. “It’s a bummer to have it in the Chase when you are running for a championship. I feel like Chicago was one of those tracks we could win at. Everyone was doing the right thing. ... It just wasn’t our day I guess.”
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