SPARTA, Ky. – Matt Kenseth’s fuel-only pit-stop gamble helped him beat Jimmie Johnson late and win Sunday’s Quaker State 400, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
A race that seemingly was Johnson’s to lose became Kenseth’s series-high fourth victory of the season after crew chief Jason Ratcliff passed on putting new tires on the No. 20 Toyota after the race’s ninth caution.
“I thought he was slightly crazy when that happened,” said Kenseth, who widened his lead after the restart on Lap 247 and saw Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet spin from second place on a dominant day.
Johnson led three times for 182 of 267 laps, yet finished ninth.
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“I thought in my head we had about a 5 percent chance of winning, if something didn’t happen to the 48,” Kenseth said after the 28th Cup victory of his career. “But, if we would have got two tires and came out behind the 48, unless he broke, I thought we had almost a zero percent chance of winning.
“When you look at it like that, it was a great call (by Ratcliff).”
Jamie McMurray was second and Clint Bowyer finished third. Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw was 11th and Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 34th of 43.
On Lap 49, Kurt Busch spun out defending series champion Brad Keselowski. Biffle slammed into Keselowski, leaving both Fords mangled.
Rain on Saturday forced NASCAR officials to postpone the race to a daytime start.
• Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany won the British Grand Prix, a Formula One event in Silverstone, England.
Four drivers, including early leader Lewis Hamilton, had to deal with exploding tires and three-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel was done with 10 laps left because of mechanical problems.
With Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber closing fast, Rosberg managed to win his second race of the year and third of his career. The margin was 0.7 seconds.
Rosberg was referred to the stewards for not slowing down for yellow flags in Turns 3 and 5. The stewards ruled Rosberg “did not make a significant reduction in speed” and gave him a reprimand but the victory stood.
After eight of 19 races this season, Vettel leads with 132 points and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is second with 111.
• Tony Schumacher’s engine exploded in a fireball as he crossed the finish line to win the Top Fuel category at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill. The seven-time season champion was not injured.
Other winners were Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle).