Memorable moments at Kansas
By Staff report | Friday, April 30, 2021
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Relive some of the most memorable moments at Kansas Speedway before the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series take to the track this weekend.
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In the first premier series race at the track, Jeff Gordon led 53 laps to hold off Ryan Newman, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace, who led 117 laps. A whopping 10 cars were eliminated via crashes, including Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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Joe Nemechek enjoyed one of the better weekends of his career, starting on the pole and riding that position to his fourth career victory while narrowly beating out Ricky Rudd at the finish. The victory came just a day after Nemechek earned a win in the XFINITY Series event, making him the first driver to win both races of the Kansas weekend.
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Six of the playoff drivers finished 35th or worse in a race where it appeared hometown favorite Clint Bowyer had won when he and Jimmie Johnson passed Greg Biffle under caution. But the field had been frozen, and the victory was awarded to Biffle.
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Driving the No. 99 Jack Roush Ford, Erik Darnell dominated the race by leading 92 of 167 laps of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. He won by a margin of almost 10.5 seconds in what ended up being the first of Darnell's two career victories.
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For the inaugural STP 400, a race that bears the name of Richard Petty's long-time sponsor, Kansas Speedway invited The King to come give the most famous words in motorsports as the race's Grand Marshal.
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Brad Keselowski started from the 25th position and led just a total of nine laps, but he managed to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take home his second career victory and his first for Team Penske. Keselowski won the championship the following year.
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Beginning with this fall race, Kansas Speedway President Patrick Warren announced that Hollywood Casino would sponsor the event for 10 straight years. The casino is part of the track, overlooking Turn 2, and opened in 2012.
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The track had recently been repaved before the fall race and it paid dividends for drivers in Busch Pole Qualifying. Hitting the pavement for the first time, Kasey Kahne set a new track record in qualifying by topping the old record by nearly 11 mph.
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Kyle Busch was on the fast track to being a heavy contender for the championship, having earned a pair of runner-up finishes and a fifth-place finish in the playoffs' first three races, but it all unraveled at Kansas. He started in a backup car and wrecked out of the race, finishing in 34th and effectively ending his title hopes.
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For the first time, the spring race (along with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race the night before) was run under the lights at the track. In addition, the race was moved to the night before Mother's Day, the date that traditionally belonged to Darlington Raceway.
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A thrilling late battle concluded on the final lap when Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth made contact, sending Kenseth into a spin and allowing Logano to grab the victory in a green-white-checkered restart and finish. Logano would go on to sweep that three-race round in the postseason.
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In his fifth career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, William Byron picked up his first career win. Byron, who was a high school senior at the time, was in the right place when the leaders tangled on the final lap in overtime. It would be the first of seven wins in the series for Byron.
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Kansas had been rough to Kyle Busch over the years with four DNFs and only four top-10 finishes entering the 2016 race. On this night, Busch's determination to score a win at one of the few remaining tracks where he'd been shut out paid off. He led a total of 67 laps, including the last 37, and held off Kevin Harvick at the finish line.
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Ryan Blaney got off to a fast start in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford with three second-place qualifying efforts in the first 11 races. With a monster lap of 189.600 mph, Blaney finally broke through to pick up his first career pole in the NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas and the first for the Wood Brothers since 2004.
Jamie Squire | Getty Images
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Kyle Larson's playoff hopes were dashed when the engine of his No. 42 Chevrolet expired 73 laps into the race at Kansas. A four-time winner that season, he was eliminated from the playoffs due to the 39th-place finish.
Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images
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Chase Elliott celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400. This was Elliott's third career win and second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2018.