Matt Kenseth scored his first win for Joe Gibbs Racing at the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kenseth took the win, the 25th of his Sprint Cup career, on his 41st birthday, becoming only the third driver in the history of the Sprint Cup to do so, following Cale Yarborough and Kyle Busch.
“I’m not a goal person, but my goal was to win and win early,” said Kenseth “Nobody put any pressure on me except for myself, but I also know that Coach [Joe Gibbs] hired me to come here and climb in the car and win races. You certainly want to do that, you don’t want to disappoint people. It’s still only week three, but I feel like this is the beginning.”
Kasey Kahne chased Kenseth to the line in a final 26-lap green flag run to the line, ending up 0.594 seconds behind the race winner, but scoring an extra point for leading 114 of the 267 laps. Reigning champion Brad Keselowski came third, with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards rounding out the top five.
Kahne looked like a potential winner, pulling out a two second lead over Jimmie Johnson before Travis Kvapil‘s engine gave way on lap 225, bringing the field in for pitstops. Kahne dropped from first to sixth during the round of stops, with Kenseth and Keselowski only taking fuel, and traffic causing a delay to Kahne’s exit.
Busch and Keselowski both suffered pit issues on their way to the top-five, with an early speeding penalty for Busch, while Keselowski suffered a dropped lug nut under caution on lap 161.
“Yeah, I want to win,” said Keselowski, who secured his third top-five in a row, following two fourth place finishes at Daytona and Phoenix. “It’s a different perspective, because I’m not happy with top 5s, I want to win. The last three weeks, really the last two weeks, and I’m sure when I get home tonight I’m going to go home and throw around some pillows and punch some things because we’ve had a shot at winning all three races and come up short, whether it’s circumstances or bad luck or, today, just a little bit of execution.”
Johnson, who finished sixth, leaves Las Vegas with a five point lead over Keselowski and a further five ahead of third-placed Dale Earnhardt, Jr.