NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

 
            === Kenseth wins caution-filled Chase race at Kansas ===
 
 Kansas  City,  KS (Sports Network)  - Matt Kenseth won  his second race in the
 Chase  for the  Sprint  Cup championship  by  surviving Sunday's  crash-filled
 Hollywood Casino 400 at the newly repaved Kansas Speedway.
 
 In  a race  that  featured a  track  and Sprint  Cup  Series season-record  14
 cautions, mostly for accidents, Kenseth grabbed the lead for good with 49 laps
 remaining  when he was the first off of pit road during a round of stops under
 caution.  Martin  Truex Jr. gained ground  on Kenseth in the closing laps, but
 Kenseth held off Truex at the finish by 0.5 seconds.
 
 It  was Kenseth's third win in 2012, which will be his last year in the No. 17
 Ford  for  Roush Fenway Racing.  Next season, the  2003 Cup champion will move
 over  to Joe  Gibbs Racing  to drive  the No.  20 Toyota,  which is  currently
 occupied by Joey Logano.
 
 "It  really means a lot," said Kenseth, who has won 24 Sprint Cup races during
 his  14-year tenure at Roush Fenway. "I want to thank (team owner) Jack Roush,
 (former  crew  chief) Robbie  Reiser and (former  Roush teammate) Mark Martin.
 Without those guys, I would have never been at Roush Fenway Racing."
 
 Kenseth  had an  encounter with the outside  wall when, after a restart on lap
 173,  Aric Almirola  bumped into leader Mark Martin, causing Almirola to spin.
 Kenseth scraped the wall as he avoided being caught up in a wreck.
 
 "I  thought it was over when I got in the fence when Aric wrecked under Mark,"
 Kenseth  said. "I was watching them and trying to make sure I didn't hit them,
 and I flat-sided it pretty bad. It ended up working in our favor. They (No. 17
 crew  members) fixed the body as good as it was when we started, and we had to
 take less gas in that last pit stop, and this pit crew put me out front."
 
 Jimmie  Johnson almost had a setback in his bid to win the series championship
 when  he crashed into  the wall in turn four at the halfway point in this 400-
 mile  race. Johnson,  who won at Kansas  one year ago, made multiple pit stops
 for repairs and then stormed back for a ninth-place finish, which was one spot
 behind points leader Brad Keselowski.
 
 "(The  car)  is pretty tore  up," Johnson said.  "I'm definitely proud of this
 team  and the fact  that we never give up and continue to fight and try to get
 every point we can."
 
 The  point separation between Keselowski and Johnson remains at seven, as four
 races  remain in  the Chase  -- Martinsville  (next Sunday),  Texas (Nov.  4),
 Phoenix (Nov. 11) and Homestead (Nov. 18).
 
 "There  was caution after caution, and it seemed like every wreck today seemed
 to  happen in front  of me," Keselowski said. "I'm glad to survive the carnage
 and  brought back a decent car. It's in okay shape and dodged a bullet. That's
 the only way that I can describe it. Whew, just a tough day."
 
 Denny  Hamlin is 20 points out of the lead after finishing 13th, while Kansas-
 native  Clint  Bowyer, the winner  of last weekend's  race at Charlotte, is 25
 markers  behind  following his sixth-place run.  Kenseth moved up two spots to
 ninth in the Chase rankings (-55).
 
 Paul  Menard finished  third, while  Kasey Kahne,  the pole  sitter, and  Tony
 Stewart  rounded out  the top-five.  Stewart, the  defending series  champion,
 rebounded  from an early-race pit-road speeding penalty and then a spin on the
 backstretch late in the event.
 
 Regan  Smith, substituting  for  Dale Earnhardt  Jr. in  the  No. 88  Hendrick
 Motorsports  Chevrolet  for the  second straight  race, posted a seventh-place
 finish.  Smith placed  38th at Charlotte after suffering engine failure in the
 early going there.
 
 Prior  to the start of this race, team owner Rick Hendrick said that Earnhardt
 Jr.  would  indeed return to the  car for next weekend's race at Martinsville.
 Hendrick,  though, later  rescinded his  pre-race  comments that  he had  been
 cleared  to  drive. Earnhardt Jr., who  missed Charlotte and Kansas due to two
 concussions  he sustained within a six-week period, will be evaluated during a
 test session on Monday before he is medically cleared for Martinsville.
 
 "I  want to apologize to all you guys (the media)," Hendrick said. "I gave you
 a  little  bad information out  on pit  road today. I've  been out here at the
 dealerships, and I did talk to the doctor (Dr. Jerry Petty, neurosurgeon) with
 Dale, and he said everything looked good and everything was fine.
 
 "However, I didn't know until (Hendrick Motorsports public relations director)
 Jesse (Essex) informed me that I had gotten ahead of myself, and that there is
 a  closed test Monday that Dr. Petty will attend. Dale will be back in the car
 (for that test), and he'll make the decision with a final test on Tuesday."
 
 Earnhardt  Jr., who is  NASCAR's most popular driver, is one of the 12 drivers
 in this year's Chase field. He sustained his second concussion during a 25-car
 accident  on the final  lap of the Talladega race two weeks ago. His first one
 occurred  during a crash while participating in the Aug. 29 Goodyear tire test
 at Kansas.
 
 Danica  Patrick was  involved in a crash  with Landon Cassill on lap 155. Both
 drivers  made contact  and spun around, with Patrick backing it into the wall.
 Patrick and Cassill also bumped into each other earlier in the race.
 
 "I've  just  been really frustrated with  the 83 (Cassill)," Patrick said. "He
 slammed  into me  on  the frontstretch  for  no other  reason  than his  radio
 communication,  saying  that she was in  the way. I've always played fair, but
 it's one time that I can imagine frustration. It's been pretty consistent with
 him  getting into  me, so  at some  point and  time, I  have to  stand up  for
 myself."
 
 Patrick finished 32nd. Texas and Phoenix are the remaining races on her Sprint
 Cup  schedule this  season. Patrick is expected to compete in the series full-
 time next year.
 
 10/21 20:05:03 ET

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