Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 11/3/14

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 15: 2009 Daytona 500 Champion Matt Kenseth speaks with the media during NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona International Speedway on January 15, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)
Photo- Getty Images Happy Birthday Matt Kenseth! What better way to celebrate your birthday than in victory lane? Everything came together Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas for Kenseth and his crew earned him this win. This win sends a huge statement throughout the garage that says Kenseth is already acquainted with his new team and he is ready to pounce on his competition. Kenseth’s crew chief Jason Ratcliff made the late strategy call by taking no tires on the final pit stop and that allowed Kenseth to be up front. Once Kenseth got to the lead, he never looked back. Kenseth gave Kasey Kahne a few glances in his rearview mirror in the closing laps since Kahne was so close but, other than that, Kenseth didn’t look back once he gained the lead. The race played out fairly typical for Las Vegas and there were no major surprises. The Gen 6 car’s debut on an intermediate track went well and the new car is the likely result of the fantastic race to the finish we witnessed. Kasey Kahne dominated the race and he just couldn’t get around Kenseth in the closing laps which prevented Kahne from taking the win he more than earned. Kahne took the lead for the first time of the day on lap 11. After the first round of green-flag pit stops, Kahne still was still up front and in the lead. The first caution of the day didn’t come out until lap 66 when debris was spotted on the backstretch. Kahne had the lead following the caution but, he was soon passed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson. Once the second round of green-flag pit stops cycled through, Johnson remained out front. Kahne would battle back up to the lead and on lap 138, he regained the lead. The second yellow-flag of the day came out on lap 160 when Marcos Ambrose did a half-spin off of turn 4. The ensuing restart got dicey when Kyle Busch made it a three-wide battle for the lead up front and Busch eventually cleared the other cars to take his first lead of the day. Kahne once again made his way to the front just a few laps following Busch’s move for first place. Both Kahne and Busch swapped the lead again following the third caution of the day. Kahne and Busch had very strong cars throughout the day but, neither of them was able to seal the deal at the end of the race. The caution that shook the field up came with 44 laps to go when David Reutimann had engine issues. That caution featured the final pit stops of the day for the leaders and the strategy call by Kenseth’s crew chief Jason Ratcliff of fuel only sent Kenseth to the lead on the ensuing restart. One more caution came out in the final 32 laps but, the most excitement came in the final ten laps when Kenseth and Kahne battled head-to-head for the win. Kahne was right on Kenseth’s tail throughout the final ten laps and Kahne had to deal with the lapped traffic which took away his chances of going low and attempting to pass Kenseth. Kahne had one more opportunity on the last lap but, Kenseth was too strong and he pulled away and took the checkered flag. In only his third race with Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth has found victory lane. This win was quite a remarkable feat for Kenseth who had an instant connection with his new team. Very rarely are we able to see a driver succeed with a new team in the beginning of the season but, Kenseth has done so. Winning this race is huge for Kenseth and his team and the momentum from this win should propel Kenseth forward in the next few months. Many more wins and a lot of success are in the future for Kenseth and today’s win just emphasized that even more. Kenseth will be a driver to watch for throughout the remainder of the season. Fin St # Driver Sponsor Car Laps Money Status Led Pts 1 18 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 267 $403,466 Running 42 47 2 4 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 267 $279,340 Running 114 44 3 1 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 267 $248,956 Running 12 42 4 13 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota 267 $208,698 Running 27 41 5 16 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 267 $180,590 Running 0 39 6 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 267 $173,526 Running 66 39 7 12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr AMP Energy Orange Chevrolet 267 $137,690 Running 0 37 8 11 56 Martin Truex Jr NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 267 $153,215 Running 0 36 9 8 29 Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet 267 $160,576 Running 0 35 10 17 27 Paul Menard Menards / Schrock Chevrolet 267 $146,206 Running 0 34 11 9 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1 Racing/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 267 $155,930 Running 0 33 12 21 22 Joey Logano Shell-Pennzoil Ford 267 $139,588 Running 0 32 13 23 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet 267 $136,925 Running 2 32 14 15 55 Mark Martin Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 267 $117,430 Running 0 30 15 6 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 267 $125,780 Running 3 30 16 22 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 267 $144,166 Running 0 28 17 5 16 Greg Biffle American Red Cross-3M Ford 267 $120,230 Running 0 27 18 7 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Zest Ford 267 $151,066 Running 1 27 19 25 42 Juan Pablo Montoya AXE APOLLO Chevrolet 267 $131,244 Running 0 25 20 24 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing-Serta Chevrolet 266 $129,275 Running 0 24 21 27 51 Austin Dillon TAG HEUER Chevrolet 266 $129,188 Running 0 0 22 19 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 266 $127,944 Running 0 22 23 36 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford 266 $99,630 Running 0 0 24 33 7 Dave Blaney Sany Chevrolet 266 $114,663 Running 0 20 25 10 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 266 $141,141 Running 0 19 26 20 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 266 $104,955 Running 0 18 27 2 15 Clint Bowyer 5-Hour Energy Drink Toyota 265 $134,838 Running 0 17 28 31 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 265 $108,463 Running 0 16 29 30 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 265 $113,638 Running 0 15 30 26 47 Bobby Labonte Kingsford Toyota 263 $111,752 Running 0 14 31 29 34 David Ragan TBA Ford 263 $102,005 Running 0 13 32 38 30 David Stremme Swan Racing-Lean1 Toyota 261 $90,305 Running 0 12 33 37 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 261 $90,105 Running 0 11 34 32 83 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota 261 $89,905 Running 0 10 35 43 35 Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford 260 $89,680 Running 0 0 36 35 36 J.J. Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 259 $89,480 Running 0 8 37 34 32 Ken Schrader Federated Auto Parts Ford 258 $89,252 Running 0 7 38 14 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 234 $118,143 Engine 0 6 39 28 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota 217 $87,985 Engine 0 5 40 42 87 Joe Nemechek Maddie’s Place Rocks.com Toyota 216 $75,985 Running 0 0 41 40 95 Scott Speed Surrender the Sponsor Ford 143 $71,985 Transmission 0 3 42 41 33 Landon Cassill TBA Chevrolet 66 $67,985 Vibration 0 2 43 39 98 Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford 21 $64,485 Vibration 0 1

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