Harvick takes Kansas; Kenseth’s Nascar Sprint Cup lead dented
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kevin Harvick crashed the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup party.
Kyle Busch simply crashed — at a track that continues to bedevil him.
And with a bizarre power failure in the last two laps, Jimmie Johnson failed to cash in decisively on Matt Kenseth’s skittishness with the new tire combination Goodyear brought to Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
The fourth race in the Chase ended as it began, with Harvick out front. The driver of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet crossed the finish line more than a football field ahead of runner-up Kurt Busch, with Jeff Gordon trailing Busch in third.
Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Johnson ran third through sixth, respectively, allowing Johnson to trim Kenseth’s advantage in the championship standings from eight to three points.
The victory was Harvick’s third of the season, his first at Kansas and the 22nd of his career. With the win, Harvick moved into third place in the standings, 25 points behind Kenseth. Kyle Busch, who entered the race third in the Chase and 12 points behind Kenseth, scored his third straight DNF at Kansas after crashing out in 34th place and dropping to fifth in points, 35 out of the lead.
Johnson felt a strong vibration in his car with two laps left, but the car regained power on the backstretch of the final lap and Johnson held sixth at the finish. With a loose handling condition that plagued him throughout the race, Kenseth salvaged an 11th-place run that kept him at the top of the standings — barely.
With a manic drive through traffic during the final 19-lap green-flag run, Kenseth gained four positions after the final restart to retain his points lead.
The race featured a record 15 cautions for a record 71 caution laps. One of the yellow-flag periods came on Lap 155, when a roaring grass fire on the bank in Turn 1 shrouded the racing surface with smoke.