Matt Kenseth gave himself a nice present for his 41st birthday, turning back Kasey Kahne to win the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kenseth, who became the third driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win on his birthday (Kyle Busch and Cale Yarborough, who did it twice), took the lead under yellow on pit road with 42 laps to go after he and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team elected not to take any tires. The 2003 Cup champion then had to battle Kahne, who drew within striking distance in the final laps but was unable to get by for a winning pass.
“I was real nervous all day,” Kenseth told Fox Sports in Victory Lane about Kahne stalking him in the late stages. “[Kahne] had the best car, and I told [crew chief] Jason [Ratcliff] with about 12 to go, I apologized to him like ‘Sorry, man, I’m gonna get beat.’ I was being too tight and I was killing the right front. I just had to make sure I stayed in front of [Kahne].
“We didn’t have quite the fastest car there in the end, but we had it where we needed it to be. Great pit stops, great pit strategy — we were in the right place at the right time and we took advantage of it today.”
Kahne led the most laps of any driver with 114 circuits paced, but had to settle for second place. Brad Keselowski posted a third-place result, with Las Vegas’ own Kyle Busch and last week’s winner Carl Edwards coming home fourth and fifth respectively.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Kobalt Tools 400
Top 10 Finishers
1. Matt Kenseth, Toyota, led 42 laps
2. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, led 114 laps
3. Brad Keselowski, Ford, led 12 laps
4. Kyle Busch, Toyota, led 27 laps
5. Carl Edwards, Ford
6. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, led 66 laps
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet
8. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
9. Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
10. Paul Menard, Chevrolet