KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Denny Hamlin (Toyota) passed Kevin Harvick with 12 laps to go and held off Brad Keselowski down the stretch to win Thursday night under the lights at Kansas Speedway.
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. (Toyota) was third, with Harvick slipping to fourth and Erik Jones (Toyota) completing the top five.
Aric Almirola finished 6th and teammate Cole Custer continued his strong runs of late by finishing 7th, giving Stewart-Haas Racing three top-10 finishers.
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 that collected Matt DiBenedetto, giving an early exit to the night to both drivers.
Just six laps later, another pileup prompted a red flag after Ryan Preece crashed hard, collecting the Fords of Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher.
Ryan Blaney, who finished 20th, was battling near the top of the field late in the race before slapping the wall and falling back in the field. Blaney had led 15 laps on the night before the trouble.
The Cup Series takes a small break before returning to action next Sunday, Aug. 2 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
THURSDAY MENCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Denny Hamlin
2nd - Brad Keselowski
3rd - Martin Truex Jr.
4th - Kevin Harvick
5th - Erik Jones
6th - Aric Almirola
7th - Cole Custer
8th - Alex Bowman
9th - Kurt Busch
10th - William Byron
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
14th - Clint Bowyer
16th - Michael McDowell
19th - John Hunter Nemechek
20th - Ryan Blaney
21st - Corey LaJoie
22nd - JJ Yeley
28th - Ryan Newman
29th - Joey Gase
32nd - Chris Buescher
34th - Joey Logano
35th - Matt DiBenedetto
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Wabash Ford Mustang
“I thought Denny (Hamlin) and I were probably pretty close to equal the second half of the night. It was just a matter of who got out in front. We didn’t get out in front on the restarts there and he was able to take advantage and bring home the win. All in all, it was still a really good day.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO RUN THE TOP OF THE RACE TRACK?
“It is hairy. No doubt about it. That is why we are supposed to be the best race car drivers in the world. We are supposed to be able to do it. You are sliding the car an inch from the wall and the closer you get to it the faster it goes and you have to be careful not to overstep it.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE? WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED?
“We needed a miracle. Our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang was really loose. We got a couple good restarts and had a couple good laps but we were in trouble there regardless if it didn’t just keep going yellow. Our guys did a good job keeping us in the fight all night but we definitely have some work to do.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
"I am pretty eager to get a W. This race team has been doing a great job. We have been running really good. A long time ago I would have given anything to just run top-10 every week and run like we have been running but when you start tasting victory and run up front and race around those guys, you want to seal the deal and go to victory lane. Tonight we were just a little bit off. We didn’t have as good of a car compared to the field as we have the last several weeks. I am proud of my guys. We keep chipping away and building up that points buffer to the cutoff which is nice but now we are ready to go get the W and some bonus points for the playoffs. I am proud of everybody, Smithfield, Ford, Mobil 1 and everyone that supports this program. Everybody back at Stewart-Haas Racing. Finally we will get to catch our breath for three or four days here and then head off to Loudon.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang
IT LOOKED LIKE THE LEFT FRONT WAS GOING DOWN, IS THAT WHAT YOU FELT?
“I felt it going into three right before we took the green and I felt it kind of landing on the splitter and honestly thought that the left front shock went bad. It wasn’t like it was flat, it was just down a little bit. Maybe it was bad judgement on my part. I just thought it wasn’t that bad and didn’t want to lose all our track position for something I wasn’t sure of. Hindsight is 20-20 and I apologize to everyone that was involved in it. It just stinks. It is one of those judgement calls. You are coming to the green and swerving your tires and something feels funny and you just aren’t sure. I was pretty sure coming off of two and it loaded up and got on the splitter. Just a bummer. I felt like we got our Shell Pennzoil Mustang pretty good that last run. We felt loose that whole time but the last run we were close to where we needed to be. I wish we could have finished it out because I feel like we would have had something.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Menards Ford Mustang
WHAT DID YOU SEE THERE?
“I couldn’t tell what was going on. I just tried to go low. I saw guys checked up off of two. I didn’t see it. I just got clipped in the right side. Nothing I could do different. I am not going to lie. I am pretty frickin irritated. We have had garbage luck the last couple of weeks. The Menards Dutch Boy Ford Mustang was fast and we deserve better. We are racing for the playoffs and this is just annoying.”
WHAT IS THE ISSUES ON THE BACKSTRETCH?
“The restarts are just wild because we have no horsepower so it takes us 45 minutes to get going. The restarts are wild. It is part of racing. I am glad to see those guys are okay. I saw Ryan Preece’s crash and Newman and those guys. I am glad to see they are okay. We have been so fast every week. We made 700 adjustments there and put about 40 rounds of wedge in it I think and just got the balance about right and then we crashed. I need an off weekend. I will watch the other guys race and go to one of my favorite tracks, New Hampshire, and rebound and get a dang finish that we deserve.”