Denny Hamlin kicked off the second half of the NASCAR Cup Series season with a convincing victory Thursday night at Kansas Speedway, passing Kevin Harvick with 12 laps to go and holding off Brad Keselowski down the stretch.
Hamlin maneuvered the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to his fifth win of the season, leading a race-high 57 of the 267 laps. His third triumph at the 1.5-mile Kansas City track was the 42nd of his Cup Series career.
Keselowski took second place in the Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, his No. 2 Team Penske Ford finishing .51 seconds back at the checkered flag. Martin Truex Jr. sealed third place, with Harvick slipping to fourth and Erik Jones completing the top five.
Two multi-car crashes slowed the early portions of Stage 3. On Lap 176, Joey Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford crunched the outside wall in Turn 2, triggering a stack-up with Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto. The early exit placed Johnson’s playoff hopes on thinner ice; he entered the race sitting in the 16th and final spot on the provisional playoff grid.
Just six laps later, another pileup prompted a red flag after Ryan Preece crashed hard into the inside wall. He was unhurt, but his day was done. Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher and Christopher Bell were also involved.
Kyle Busch and Keselowski split the stage wins, with Busch netting his first stage victory of the season. Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota walloped the Turn 4 retaining wall and pitted on Lap 227, but he recovered to finish 11th.
THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE GO FAST
Well, there was not a single player that was riding with the race winner for this mid week race at Kansas, which tells me that they were just “dust in the wind“! So once again I will have to neatly tuck this award back into the closet til the haulers unload at Louden in a week and a half.
THE MOVERS AND THE SHAKERS
The big scorer for the Kansas race is our leader Carole, aka Rudy. Rudy had another spectacular race. You see Rudy was neatly stowed away in the copilot’s seat of Blazingly Bad Brad Keselowski during the race. At the end of the night Bad Brad rewarded Rudy with 51 points for his evening of hard work and his 2nd place finish.
Trailing Rudy in the weekly scoring column is an unlikely trio consisting of Edie The Las Vegas Super Star, Jim, aka Chiefy, and Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head. All three players added a very nice 42 points to their 2nd segment totals. While they all added the same totals, the points came from two different drivers. The Vegas Super Star and Chiefy was in the Kevin Harvick camp, while The Cheddar Head was hanging with Kyle Busch this week.
Meanwhile, Snoopy Dawn pocketed a very nice score of 37 points that was delivered to her by That Jones Boy, Erik.
Dan The Numbers Cruncher and his trusty sidekick Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff were flying low and slow underneath the radar with the gear and flaps out all race. But when the pay window opened up their man, Chase Elliott, pulled up the gear, raised the flaps and “let the hawses loose”, delivering 26 points for his 12th place finish.
Rounding out the top five scorers this week is a very odd trio consisting of Carlton The Doorman, Linda The Cookie Mom, and Bernie The Bay Area Bandit. All three were loud and proud egging on Clint Bowyer to victory. Well, Clint didn’t win the race, but he did deliver 23 points for his 14th place finish.
Most everyone exchanged zip codes this race, with the exception of Rudy, The Cheddar Head, and The Doorman.
The largest mover this week is Edie The Las Vegas Super Star. The Vegas Super Star rocketed up the leaderboard four (4) positions to land in 7th position.
Jim, aka Chiefy, Bernie The Bay Area Bandit, and Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff all moved two (2) spots. Out of this group only Chiefy had positive movement, climbing up two places to sit in 6th place. La Bandita and The Sheriff stumbled and fell down two places to reside in 8th and 9th places, respectively.
Snoopy Dawn, Dan The Numbers Dude, Linda The Cookie Mom, and Jeremy The Coach moved just one position, Snoopy moved up one place to occupy 3rd place this week, while The Numbers Dude, The Cookie Mom, and The Coach all fell one spot to reside in 4th, 10, and 11th, respectively.
STRAIGHT FROM THE CRAPPER
Well, once again we have another 2-fer to celebrate this race! Because The Coach could only log a microscopic single point from Wrecky Stenhouse this week he is the proud recipient of The Crappiest Pick of The Week award. Additionally, that one (1) point allowed The Coach to lay claim to the newly redecorated Outhouse! For those who still do not know the exact location of The Outhouse, it is down at the end of Lonely Street diagonally across the street from The Heart Break Hotel!
The next race will be up in the Northeast at Louden in a week and a half.
TIL NEXT TIME, PULL YOUR BELTS TIGHT AND LET’S GO RACIN’!