7:00 pm – That will do it for this weekend’s coverage of the Sam’s Town 300 and the Kobalt Tools 400. Congratulations to our winners Sam Hornish and Matt Kenseth and thanks to all for joining us!
6:52 pm – Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Jason Ratcliff made an aggressive call on pit road during the fourth caution of the race. With most teams opting for two tires, Ratcliff called for just enough fuel to make it to the end. That kind of call is what has Kenseth so excited about his future with the No. 20 team. “I was grinning inside as I was leaving pit road,” said Kenseth. “I heard him counting under his breath. I thought, oh, I thought he was filling it up. I left pit road and I was, like, that’s what you like. You’re hoping, dreaming, all that stuff, to work with somebody that doesn’t only prepare race cars to win races but you want to call races to win races and do pit stops to win races and adjust cars to win races and be aggressive.”
According to Ratcliff, Kenseth’s desire to stay up front made the decision a no brainer. “(We knew we would pick up a little over a second if we don’t take tires,” he said. “Or we can take right side tires. If there’s going to be some more cautions later in the race, that’s probably going to be the right call. Then when Matt came on the radio – I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about it. He said, ‘Man, just keep me up front.’ I said, ‘Okay. Game on.”
6:45 pm – Jimmie Johnson held onto the points lead after his 6th place finish. He is 5 points ahead of Keselowski, who jumped past Dale Earnhardt for 2nd. Kenseth’s win moved him from 18th to 7th while Kane leapt from 31st to 14th. Kyle Busch had a the second biggest point gain as he jumped 16 positions to 17th.
6:15 pm – Kyle Busch overcame a speeding penalty during his first pit stop to finish 4th at his home track. “I made a mistake and got us mired back in traffic but we fought hard,” said Busch. “We battled back up through there. We’ve got to figure out how we can make these race cars last longer on the long runs for me. Kenseth there was pretty good and he stayed good throughout the long run. We went to hell in a hand basket there after a minute.”
5:35 pm - Brad Keselowski is trying to put his third consecutive top-five finish in perspective but the defending series champion has gotten used to winning and is not willing to settle for anything less. “I’m not happy with top 5s,” said Keselowski, who led 12 laps. “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 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. I wanted to win all three of these races and I’m not happy unless we can do that.”
5:11 pm - Kasey Kahne, who led six times for 114 laps, was battling Kyle Busch for the lead when the fourth caution flag flew for fluid from Joey Logano’s Ford. Kenseth took the lead after pit stops with fuel only strategy.
Kahne did everything he could to pass Kenseth but settled for second. “We had two cycles on left sides,” Kahne explained. “Matt did everything right. This is not the guy you want to have to race with 10 to go because he’s going to do everything right. He did a perfect job and we came back second.”
4:02 pm – Matt Kenseth’s win in the Kobalt Tools 400 marked just the third time in series history a driver has celebrated a birthday with a trip to Victory Lane. Cale Yarborough did it once and Kyle Busch has done it once. “I was kind of bummed out about being 29,” joked Kenseth, who turned 41 years old today. “Since we’re standing here with a win, I’ll take it.”
It took Kenseth just three races to record his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing after switching teams during the off-season. He led twice for 42 laps and held off Kasey Kahne to post his third series victory at LVMS. “This is awesome,” said Kenseth. “I feel really good about this group. I really feel like this is just the beginning. I was real nervous. All day (Kahne) had the best car. I just had to make sure I stayed in front of him. Didn’t have quite the fastest car there at the end, but we had it where it needed to be.”
3:05 pm – Matt Kenseth holds off Kasey Kahne to celebrate his 41st birthday with his 25th career victory.
Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards round out the top 5.
3:00 pm – With 6 laps to go the leaders are approaching traffic. Kahne makes a run off Turn 2 but can’t make the pass on Kenseth.
2:41 pm – Lap 235 – Yellow #5 – Ryan Newman blows an engine on the backstretch. Juan Pablo Montoya gets the free pass. There are 19 cars on the lead lap.
Pit stops: Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle make pit stops.
Running order on restart on Lap 242: Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson, Kahne, Earnhardt, Busch
2:27 pm – Denny Hamlin makes what should be his final scheduled pit stop on Lap 220.
Lap 225 – Yellow #4 for a blown engine in the No. 93 Toyota driven by Travis Kvapil.
The leaders pit.
Kenseth and Keselowski take no tires. Joey Logano gets the free pass
Running order for the restart on Lap 231: Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson, Edwards, Earnhardt, Kahne, Kyle Busch
2:18 pm – Busch takes the lead from Hamlin, who falls back to 5th.
Kahne is battling Busch for 1st and gets it on Lap 210.
2:15 pm – Hamlin stays out and takes the lead. The running order after pit stops is Hamlin, Kahne, Busch, Johnson and Edwards. Green flag on Lap 199.
2:05 pm - Kahne takes the lead back from Busch and drives out to a 1.5-second lead on Lap 193. Johnson, Kenseth and
Yellow #3 - Lap 196 - Bobby Labonte spins out in Turn 2. Tony Stewart gets the free pass.
Pit stops under caution.
1:55 pm – Kyle Busch drives to the apron and takes ‘em three-wide on the restart to take the lead.
1:47 pm - Caution #2 on Lap 161 – Ambrose almost spun out trying to get on pit road. Denny Hamlin gets the free pass.
Pit stops for all.
Running order after pit stops: Johnson, Kahne, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr
Brad Keselowski has a slow stop and falls from 3rd to 13th.
1:40 pm – Kahne passes Johnson for the lead on Lap 138.
The drivers who took the wave around during the last caution make green flag pit stops on Lap 148.
Running order on Lap 150: Kahne, Johnson, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Truex
1:22 pm – Green flag pit stops are underway. Jimmie Johnson gives up the lead on Lap 118 for his stop.
Denny Hamlin – Speeding while entering pit road. He needs to serve a pass through penalty.
Danica Patrick – Outside tire violation. She’ll come back to pit road for a pass through penalty.
After green flag stops the top 5 are: Johnson, Keselowski, Kahne, Martin Truex and Harvick.
1:05 pm - Johnson takes the lead on Lap 75. McMurray falls to 15th on those old tires. Kyle Busch is up to 11th on 4 new tires.
Landon Cassill is in the garage with engine trouble.
1:00 pm – Kahne, Keselowski and Harvick take two tires. Running order for the restart on Lap 71: Kahne, Keselowski, Harvick, Johnson, Earnhardt
Kyle Busch takes 4 tires and restarts 15th.
11 drivers took the wave around including Tony Stewart.
Jamie McMurray takes fuel only and restarts 6th.
12:54 pm – Caution #1 flies on Lap 66 for debris on the backstretch. Ryan Newman gets the free pass. Running order before pit stops: Kahne, Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Johnson, Earnhardt
12:46 pm –Kyle Busch – speeding entering pit road. He’ll serve a pass through penalty and go from 4th to 19th, and is in danger of going a lap down.
Joey Logano and JJ Yeley are penalized for speeding on exit and they’ll also serve pass through penalties.
12:32 pm – Bowyer’s team reports the tires were fine so the driver was fighting a very loose race car and not a bad tire. He’s back to 42nd, 2 laps behind the leaders.
Kyle Busch continues to march forward and is 3rd on Lap 27.
12:25 pm - Kahne takes the lead from Keselowski on Lap 11. Johnson and Hamlin are running 3rd and 4th. Kyle Busch is already up to 5th.
Clint Bowyer heads to pit road for fresh tires on Lap 16. He had fallen all the back to 26th and hopes it was just a tire going soft and not something more serious.
12:19 pm – Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray will start at the rear of the field after engine changes in their Chevrolets.
Brad Keselowski shows the way to the green flag and takes the lead on Lap 1. Rounding out the top five are Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.
11:20 am – Rock of Ages is performing on the frontstretch as the drivers prepare for introductions. Marie Osmond will perform the National Anthem. The US Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled for a pair of fly-bys and the green flag is set to drop at 12:16 pm.
10:45 am – Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse and Austin Dillon are the three drivers in today’s field who are competing for the first time at LVMS in a Cup car. Stenhouse has an edge on experience with a Nationwide Series win at the 1.5-mile speedway last March.
10:05 am - Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin are the four drivers who have competed in all 15 previous Cup events at LVMS. Burton has two victories while Martin and Gordon have one each. Labonte’s best finish was 4th in 2003. Jimmie Johnson is starting 3rd and leads all drivers with four victories, the most recent in 2010. In 2009, Kyle Busch became the only driver ever to win from the pole here. Today he’ll start from lucky starting position 13. Brother Kurt starts 24th in his 13th start at his home track and is looking to beat his personal best finish of 3rd.
8:30 am – Welcome to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for what should be an amazing day of racing. Defending Sprint Cup Series Champion Bard Keselowski will lead the field to green at high noon for the 267-lap race. Forty-three drivers are racing for their share of the $6.4 million total purse.
Lowe’s Companies and the Speedway extended their agreement for title sponsorship of the annual Sprint Cup Series event. “Lowe’s is a company with a long and storied history in NASCAR and has been a wonderful partner for the past three years,” said LVMS president Chris Powell. “We’re very excited that they have decided to extend the agreement and we’re looking forward to helping Lowe’s build its brand name within the NASCAR community and beyond.”
The weekend pours $240 million into the local economy and is among the top five on the series circuit in fan attendance.