Observations• The post-race reaction wasn’t quite what was expected following Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway that featured a record 15 cautions. With a new tire for the race, Goodyear was set up to likely be the target of frustrated drivers, and there were a few who accommodated. But after the race, far more credited Goodyear for the work it has done with its multi-zone technology and blamed the recent repaving jobs done at Kansas and other tracks. “This is not a highway, it’s a race track and it’s a race car and a racing tire,” said Jeff Gordon. “It needs to be looked at differently.”
• Here is another lesson why qualifying matters, although it doesn’t generally pay anything. Kevin Harvick has only six poles in his Sprint Cup Series career. After Sunday, he has won 3 of the 6.
• Timmy Hill was the rookie of the race, finishing 28th. Danica Patrick wrecked on the first lap and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – who had been running very well of late – struggled all day and finished 30th.
How the Chase drivers faired:
1. Matt Kenseth, 2,183 points
Despite winning the Nationwide race on Saturday, Kenseth had felt uneasy in his Cup car all weekend. A pit road speeding penalty didn’t help his cause and he finished 11th.
2. Jimmie Johnson (-3)
On the final lap Johnson was racing for fourth when his engine started giving him problems and he cut it off to coast him to a sixth-place finish.
3. Kevin Harvick (-25)
Harvick’s Richard Childress Racing team is the only one other than Joe Gibbs Racing to win on a 1.5-mile track this season. That’s a good omen considering three of the final six races are on the same type of track.
4. Jeff Gordon (-32)
Gordon’s third-place finish moved him into fourth in the series standings. He has proven to be more consistent in the Chase than he was before it started.
5. Kyle Busch (-35)
Three strikes – or wrecks – and Kyle Busch was out of Sunday’s race. His championship chances took a big hit as well.
6. Greg Biffle (-44)
Biffle had no problems with a 13th place finish on Sunday. “We had about a 30th place car,” he said.
7. Kurt Busch (-47)
Busch earned his first top-five finish of his career at Kansas Speedway - he ended up second - and his best finish thus far in the Chase.
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-54)
Earnhardt led 10 laps early in Sunday’s race but could not make much headway in the second half and ended up eighth.
9. Clint Bowyer (-55)
Bowyer struggled to get his 14th place finish on Sunday and then got involved in an incident with Aric Almirola on the cool-down lap.
10. Joey Logano (-59)
Logano was once again the class of the Ford field, finishing fourth. He was more impressed with his crew chief, Todd Gordon. “I couldn’t imaging trying to call a race like this,” Logano said. “It is nuts because one minute you are first and the next you are 15th and you hope you cycle out to the lead at the end.”
11. Carl Edwards (-60)
Edwards surprised himself wit his fifth-place finish. Regarding his incident with Kyle Busch, Edwards he thought Busch “just turned down" into him.
12. Ryan Newman (-73)
A wreck with Justin Allgaier on Lap 136 left Newman with significant damage which required extensive repairs in the garage.
13. Kasey Kahne (-83)
Kahne struggled for track position the entire race and finished 15th.
Five key moments
1. Before the race one was one lap old, a four-car accident erupted started by Danica Patrick, that turned out to be one of three incidents Kyle Busch would be involved in.
2. Kevin Harvick got out of the gate fast, leading 78 of the first 79 laps.
3. Matt Kenseth led 21 laps but was shuffled to the back when he was caught speeding on pit road on Lap 138.
4. Carl Edwards gets into Kyle Busch on Lap 200 to trigger a three-car wreck and knocks Busch out of the race.
5. Harvick bolted way ahead of Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch on a restart with 19 laps remaining and cruised to his third victory of the season.