Latest News

NASCAR Sprint Unlimited recap: Matt Kenseth wins opener

There are no points to go with it, but Matt Kenseth ended his Victory Lane drought in the Sprint Cup Series.

Kenseth held off Martin Truex Jr. in a four-lap dash to finish to win Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, an exhibition race which serves as the unofficial kickoff of the 2015 NASCAR season.

The win is the first for Kenseth in the event. He hasn’t won a Cup race of any kind since his victory in the non-points Budweiser Duels last February.

Turning point

On Lap 46, contact between Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray triggered a wreck that eventually collected 14 cars. Several contenders for win had their race end early, including last year’s winner Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, McMurray and Kasey Kahne. When the race resumed on Lap 50, only 11 undamaged cars remained.

Three who mattered

Matt Kenseth: He had one of the fastest cars and as the field was reduced by wrecks, he virtually drove away from the field.

Kevin Harvick: Harvick’s car was damaged in a wreck earlier in the race but he was still able to give Kenseth a hard push on the final restart, which helped Kenseth separate himself from the rest of the field.

Greg Biffle: Likely trying to improve both of their positions, Biffle’s bump of McMurray ended up causing the biggest wreck of the race and altering the outcome.

Observations

• The Sprint Unlimited under its many former names and formats used to feature much smaller fields. While NASCAR has changed the format to increase the number of entries over the years, big wrecks have repeatedly shortened them. Perhaps a sign?



•  Harvick and Joey Logano, who have had run-ins in the past, banged fenders on pit road and got in a heated conversation on pit road after the race, apparently over Logano’s shove of Harvick in the corner late in the race.



• Martin Truex Jr. led one lap all of last season. He led 30 Saturday night while running second and is anxious for next weekend’s Daytona 500.



They said it

“It’s a great feeling to win, and to win at Daytona for sure.” – winner Matt Kenseth

Next race

Daytona 500

Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Race distance: 500 miles, or 200 laps.

When: 1 p.m., Feb. 22

TV: Fox.

Radio: Motor Racing Network.

N@SCAR

Three tweets from Saturday night’s race:

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments