KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Matt Kenseth picked up his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season Saturday at Kansas Speedway during the Kansas Lottery 300.
But it was what happened behind Kenseth during a battle for second between Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch that turned out to be the real story of the race.
Keselowski and Busch, who are each trying to help their teams win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owners Championship, were battling for second behind Kenseth with 14 laps left. Kenseth looked to be a lap or two short on fuel, so the battle between Keselowski and Busch was shaping up to be a race for the victory.
Busch was trying to make his way below Keselowski coming out of turn four when Busch’s Toyota touched the left-rear quarter panel of Keselowski’s Ford. The contact caused Keselowski to spin across the nose of Busch’s Toyota.
Keselowski spun down the front stretch and across the finish line before backing his Penske Racing Ford into the front stretch wall. Keselowski, clearly not pleased with Busch’s actions, exited his car and jogged across the front stretch grass towards Busch’s pit box on pit road.
The defending Sprint Cup champion pointed at Busch’s crew briefly before turning and going the other direction down pit road. He eventually jogged all the way to the Medical Center, where he was quickly cleared and released.
Keselowski, who was scored 28th at the finish, shared his displeasure with Busch after the race.
“It was hard racing up until then, it was good hard racing,” Keselowski said. “Without that yellow it was doubtful the 18 (Kenseth) would have made it (on fuel). Maybe he would. The odds were going to be in favor of whoever won the battle between me and Kyle.
“I guess Kyle knew that and he didn’t want me to race him hard so he just dumped me down the straightaway. I think that is pretty self-explanatory and I’m not going to stand for it.”
Busch blamed the incident with Keselowski on his car being too tight during the late-race run to the checkers.
“It was hard racing. There were a lot of moments where maybe I felt a little crowded,” said Busch, who finished fourth. “The contact there that ultimately ended it, I just got real tight off of (turn) four. I’ve been battling tight underneath him and behind him and everything else.
“Finally I thought I had a run and I tried to stay in the gas so I could get a run on him and get to his quarter and side draft him down the front straightaway and I got too tight. Got inside his wake and it just got me too close to him and spun him out.”
Busch, who is in the thick of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship chase, said he hopes this incident doesn’t lead to payback on Sunday.
“Brad Keselowski dumped me at Watkins Glen (in 2012). I persevered and let him and Jimmie (Johnson) battle it out. I had an opportunity to wreck him a few times in the Chase and I was the bigger man. If he wants to take it over to the other side of the garage area then whatever. I’ve got more class than that.”
Keselowski, however, didn’t appear to share the same sentiment.
“He’s got a lot more to lose than I do. I guess that is the only good thing about not being in the Chase,” Keselowski said.
Meanwhile, the field was about to return to racing with five laps left in the event. Kenseth held the lead on the restart while Busch, who restarted second, faded as the field entered turn one. With the field battling behind him for second, Kenseth was able to drive to a .953-second triumph.
“It was kind of one of those days I think they (the crew) were sick of listening me to complaining,” said Kenseth, who played fuel strategy to position himself at the front of the pack late in the race. “Ever since we got here our Reser’s Camry had a lot of speed and I told them I really liked how it felt. It was probably the best car I’ve had all year out of that shop.”
Paul Menard nipped Regan Smith at the finish line to finish second. Busch and Justin Allgaier followed.
Austin Dillon finished sixth and took an eight-point lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers’ championship standings after Sam Hornish Jr. struggled to a 17th place finish.