Turns out a competition caution on Lap 25 of the Kansas Lottery 300 wouldn’t be the only caution of the day.
In a day full of cautions including Brian Vickers lengthy slide through the grass on lap 37 and the separate spins that Travis Pastrana and Joe Nemechek orchestrated on lap 52, no one was really surprised. Why?Tires.
Coming into Kansas, NASCAR introduced a new tire. Paired with the repave from 2012 after a pothole ‘sprung up’ left a chronic looseness in most cars. That i not the reason for the Competition caution though. All drivers and crews went to bed with the temperatures being in the high 80’s. Drivers and crews wake up, and the temperatures are in the low 60’s. This left the teams scratching their heads. The temperature drop left the track in tighter conditions then the hotter, looser conditions.
The race started without a hitch, up until lap 3, when the 44, driven by Hal Martin, made contact with the outside wall on the backstretch.
The next caution was on lap 25. The competition caution.
Austin Dillon came out of the pits first, Smith, moved up 4 positions and came out second.
It was under this restart that Austin Dillon chose to take the unpreferred outside groove on a restart while leading. This proved to be a bad call that even team owner Richard Childress wasn’t too pleased about. Immediately, he dropped from first to fifteenth, relinquishing the lead to Regan Smith,
On lap 44, the 39 car of Ryan Sieg spun in turn 2, in the middle of the pack. All was avoided, and the green flag came back out on lap 48.
The caution came back out on lap 52. Pastrana nudged the 99 of Alex Bowman, but Pastrana ended up spinning out. At the same time, several cars back, Joe Nemechek in the 87 also spun out without any contact.
The race restarted and Regan Smith was able to stretch out his lead to almost two seconds until the green flag pit stops started.
The leaders pitted, and it wouldn’t have been a problem, but about four laps later, on lap 90, Elliott Sadler, in the 11 car, spun while trying to get back up to speed after his green flag pit stop.
Austin Dillon regained the lead during this caution while the previous frontrunners, Regan Smith, Parker Kligerman, and Matt Kenseth, first, second, and third, respectively restarted in fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth.
16 laps later, on lap 116, the first caution for debris was waved. During this caution the leaders all pitted except the 7 of Regan Smith.
Regan Smith hadn’t pitted since lap 84, and was stretching it to the limit. In fact, he was about to come in when the 16 car of Chris Buescher spun out. Regan Smith and most other leaders come in on this stop. It was stops full of strategy. Some cars, like Regan Smith, took four tires, some guys, like Austin Dillon, took two, and some, like Brad Keselowski, took just gas.
On the restart, Trevor Bayne was pushed up the track by Kyle Busch, and brushed the wall. A frustrated Bayne was quick to yell into the radio, “Is it wreck Trevor day or something?”
Not too long after Trevor brushed the wall, Sam Hornish Junior smacked the wall as well. No caution was brought out.
During this segment, the longest green flag run of the day, the lead was exchanged between Keselowski, who took the green, and Kenseth who had just run up and taken it about halfway through the run, the same run that had lasted about 36 laps.
The caution that ended this run? Kyle Busch got into Brad Keselowski, and ended Keselowski’s day twelve laps short of the finish line.
After Keselowski’s came to a stop, and wouldn’t refire, Keselowski got out of his car and began to run to pit road, seemingly towards Kyle Busch’s pit stall. After a conversation with an official, Keselowski then ran to the infield care center.
“It was good hard racing up until that point. … Kyle didn’t want me to race him hard, so he just dumped me. He’s got a lot more to lose.” He then went on to say, “I guess thats the good thing about not being in the chase.”
“The contact there that ultimately ended it, I just got real tight. I thought I had a run and I got too tight and I got too close.” Kyle also said that Brad wrecked him last year and it cost Kyle in trying to make the chase; said he was a better man and didn’t impact Brad’s title run.
On the final restart, Matt Kenseth chose the high line, and blew past Kyle Busch on the restart. Matt Kenseth went on to win the race. Paul Menard, who had a fast 33 car all day, finished second, and Regan Smith finished third.
Riding the waves of a hot season Kenseth scored his 28th career victory in the Nationwide Series and his second of the 2013 season. He is currently the points leader in the Sprint Cup Series, where he has tallied 7 wins this season alone and is heavily considered a favorite to win the Championship.
Busch fell back to fourth, and Justin Allgaier finished fifth. the championship leader, Sam Hornish finished seventeenth, and Austin Dillon finished sixth.
The rest of the top ten finishing order is as follows; Parker Kligerman, Brad Sweet, Trevor Bayne, and Elliott Sadler.