Matt Kenseth started up front in the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. / Jamie Squire, Getty Images
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Matt Kenseth finished where he started Sunday at Kansas Speedway, winning from the pole position for the second time in his career and salvaging a rough day for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kenseth seized the lead when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pitted under green and then held it the rest of the way after a late yellow flag. He fended off Kasey Kahne by seconds for his 26th career victory and second of the season.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
Brad Keselowski took sixth despite plenty of damage to his No. 2 Ford, followed by Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Mark Martin and Paul Menard.
Stenhouse, who was on track for his first career Sprint Cup win before he got caught pitting just before a caution took 11th.
"It's a dream come true to drive this stuff," said Kenseth, who has two wins in eight starts since joining JGR this season.
"These guys are contenders; they're an awesome race team. I'm glad to be wheeling this thing."
The Sprint Cup pole-sitter has won three races in a row -- Johnson at Martinsville, Kyle Busch at Fort Worth and now Kenseth. The last time that happened was Aug. 11-Sept. 1, 1985, with Bill Elliott (Michigan), Dale Earnhardt (Bristol) and Elliott again (Darlington).
Kahne, who was in a similar battle with Kenseth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Kenseth got his first win this season, came up just short again.
"I tried a lot, but Matt was fast. Always is," Kahne said. "We came close. I was happy but I knew it was going to be tough to pass him."
While Kenseth got the win, the rest of his JGR team had a rough day, along with powerhouse Penske Racing. Both suffered multiple crashes, including a memorable one involving both teams.
The trouble started on lap 5 when Busch spun his No. 18 JGR Toyota on the backstretch. He avoided damage in the incident, but the No. 2 Penske Ford of Keselowski got rammed by another car while trying to slow down. After two pit stops under yellow, the defending series champion fell a lap down. Keselowski later rebounded, though, running as high as second as his team took advantage of wise strategy plays and an opportune caution flag.
The trouble wasn't over for Busch, who already was in a backup Camry after crashing in the opening practice Friday. On lap 104, he lost the handle again in Turn 4 and slid down the banking into a front-end collision with Joey Logano, whose No. 22 Penske Ford was on the apron trying to avoid the wreck.
Both cars were totaled, leaving Logano in 39th and Busch in 38th.
Brian Vickers, driving as a substitute for JGR driver Denny Hamlin as he sat out his third Cup race to recover from a broken back, also spun out. He finished 31st.
JGR and Penske each fielded an extra car in the race for their Nationwide drivers, who also had problems. Elliott Sadler crashed his No. 81 Toyota in turn 4 on lap 87. Sam Hornish Jr., running a third Ford for Penske, was collected in a five-car backstretch crash on lap 182. Hornish was 37th, and Sadler took 40th.
The bad news might continue this week for Penske, which is awaiting an appeal hearing on the Texas penalties to Keselowski and Logano that could result in both teams losing their crew chiefs, car chiefs and engineers for six points races and the All-Star Race. As of Sunday afternoon, NASCAR hadn't set a date for the appeal hearing.
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