Johnson steals the winning recipe at Kansas

Photo by Reid Williams / Used with permission

Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. turn laps at Kansas Speedway.




By Tyler Jones
Correspondent
May 11, 2015
theracingexperts@aol.com

 

KANSAS CITY, Kansas— Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made its’ annual spring stop at Kansas Speedway for the fifth annual SpongeBob SquarePants 400. While the race was in Kansas City and not the Bikini Bottom, water was still going to be a big factor in the race.

The forecast projected earlier in the day that the race was unlikely to be completed Saturday, with many wondering if the race would have to be completed on Sunday. If the race were to be moved on Sunday, it would fall on Mother’s Day.  

After capturing the pole on Friday, Joey Logano would lead the field to green on Saturday and was the odds on favorite to win the race. Logano won the previous race at Kansas in October.

Logano led the opening 29 laps and seemed to be pulling away from the field early. Later on after a competition caution, it was Martin Truex Jr. who took the lead and was leading at lap 95, when the third caution of the race was called.

During the caution, the rain came down and would force a rain delay that would last two hour and 16 minutes. The race would later on resume, with needing to complete 37 laps to get to half way, in order to finish the race on Saturday night.


Photo by Reid Williams / Used with permission

Joey Logano (22) leads the field to the green flag in Saturday night's SpongeBob Squarepants 400 at Kansas Speedway.

After race action was back underway, Truex Jr. continued to lead. Truex Jr. led four different times in the final 172 laps, but surrendered the lead on lap 201 and would never lead again. Truex Jr. was pleased though after the race with his performance.

“I felt like tonight we kind of gained a big step in speed, and hopefully that’s something that will continue,” he said.

With 10 laps remaining, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. suffered a crash in turn 2, bringing out the final caution of the race. With fuel mileage in question, this forced teams to choice between either staying out or coming in to take fuel.

Leader Kevin Harvick opted to come down to pit and take two tries and make the safe call, to insure a finish in the race. After not being a factor all day, Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon stayed out and would take a chance at victory.

With five laps remaining, Jimmie Johnson was out-front with his Hendrick teammates, Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Harvick with fresh tires would be forced to try to make his way to the front in the sixth position.

After the green dropped, Harvick made his way past Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon. By that point though, it was too late for Harvick. With the final laps winding down, Johnson pulled away to capture the checkered flag at Kansas.

This would be Jimmie Johnson’s third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and eighth top-10 finish in his 2015 campaign. It was also Johnson’s third victory at Kansas Speedway.

Johnson won in a different way than usual stating, “In some ways we fought really hard to get to victory lane, but it’s fun to win one gambling. We haven’t really gambled before and won. Not to my knowledge. So it feels a little different and pretty cool to have that come together.”  


Photo by Reid Williams / Used with permission

Martin Truex Jr. turns laps at Kansas Speedway Saturday night. Truex led a race-high 95 laps en route to a ninth place finish.

Harvick ended the night with a second-place finish, followed by Earnhardt Jr., Gordon and the pole-sitter Joey Logano rounded out the top-5.

After the race Harvick talking about coming up short saying, “They just did a great job (No. 4 team), they put us in a position to have a chance to win, and in the end, the 48 and 88 didn’t have the speed so they gambled and they were able to get enough cars in between us that we were not able to have enough laps to get around them.”

Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves on to the hub of the sport in Charlotte, for the Sprint All-Star Race. The race is a non-points race, with one million dollars on the line. The Sprint All-Star Race can be seen live at 6pm CST on FOX Sports 1.

On October 18th, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to Kansas for the Hollywood Casino 400. The race will be the fifth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and will take place at 1:15pm CST on NBC.

 


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