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Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup seventh-place finisher, Matt Kenseth , gives a speech at the Sprint Cup Series Awards.
JGR driver holds off Kyle Busch to win final race of Nationwide's tenure MORE: Full EcoBoost 300 results " Final Nationwide Series standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Charging away from a pack of pursuers on the final restart, Matt Kenseth scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win since October of last year in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Chase Elliott, who had clinched the driver’s championship last Saturday in Phoenix, finished 17th after scraping the outside wall late in the race. Brad Keselowski delivered the Nationwide Series owner’s championship to Roger Penske with an eighth-place result in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. In a mere formality, Elliott also received Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, making the him the first driver to win both a rookie title and a series championship in the same year in any of NASCAR’s top three national series. At age 18, Elliott also is the youngest national touring series champion in NASCAR history. After losing the lead to Kyle Larson after a restart on Lap 199 of a scheduled 200, Kenseth got a second chance when NASCAR threw the 11th caution of the race for a multicar wreck behind the leader moments before Larson was to take the white flag signaling the final lap, which would have made him a winner under the caution. Instead, Kenseth pulled ahead from the outside lane after a restart on Lap 205 and took the checkered flag on the sixth lap of overtime. Kyle Busch won a drag race to the finish line to take the runner-up spot from Larson, who held third. Ryan Blaney and rookie Chris Buescher completed the top five. Kenseth won for Joe Gibbs Racing in the final outing with the company for crew chief Kevin Kidd, who moves to Roush Fenway Racing next year as director of competition in the Sprint Cup Series. “It’s been a long time since I won a race in anything, so just happy for Kevin,” Kenseth said. “Happy to send him off with a win here. That was pretty cool. Kyle got around me on that second-to-last restart, but when he chose the bottom there, and I had Kyle (Busch) behind me, I knew we had a shot. “I just had to do a better job than I did the time before, so luckily, we got that one last chance to redeem ourselves.” Larson, who led 111 laps, spun his tires slightly on the final restart, allowing Kenseth to take the advantage. “I had good restarts up there until the last 50 laps or so,” Larson said. “Then I finally got a good one underneath Matt (on Lap 199) and was able to get to the lead… I was about 15 feet short of the win. Then we got the yellow, and I thought the 12 (Blaney) had been getting really good restarts, so I wanted to start in front of him (in the bottom lane). “Spun my tires a little bit, and the 20 ( Kenseth ) was hanging there. I was side-drafting down the frontstretch, and he was able to swerve at me and get me shaken off him. That spun my tires into (Turn) 1, and got me sideways. I was three-wide there, and that was all the 20 needed to win.” Penske won the owner’s championship with five different drivers taking turns in the No. 22 Ford: Keselowski, Joey Logano , Ryan Blaney , Michael McDowell and Alex Tagliani . The championship was the fourth for Penske in the last five years (2010 Nationwide driver’s title with Keselowski, 2012 Sprint Cup title with Keselowski and back-to-back NNS owner’s championships). “Everyone did so much to make this happen, and obviously it didn't come down until the last lap there until we knew we had it,” Penske said. “Two years in a row, I think we had four championships here over the last few years, and that's really important to us as we go forward.” MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matt Kenseth celebrates in victory lane after winning his first Nationwide Series race of the 2014 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Matt Kenseth talks about how the late restart helped him seal the win in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Denny Hamlin says he's beyond excited to finally go back to Homestead with a shot at the title while Matt Kenseth talks about falling short of another Championship.
Matt Kenseth takes the checkered flag to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 and Chase Elliott makes history by becoming the youngest driver to win the Nationwide Series title.
Stewart tops 200-mph in second round, sets records RELATED: Starting Lineup " Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota FORT WORTH, Tex.—With three races left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Matt Kenseth made a statement during Friday’s time trials at Texas Motor Speedway . After Tony Stewart set the fastest lap ever run on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway at 200.111 mph in the second round of knockout qualifying, Kenseth covered the distance in 27.095 seconds (199.299 mph) in the money round to win the pole for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 . In winning his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at Texas and the 13th of his career, Kenseth edged Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup leader Jeff Gordon (199.291 mph) after Gordon ran what he described as an overly conservative lap. Jimmie Johnson (198.983 mph) will start third in the second race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Eliminator Round, followed by Kurt Busch (198.910 mph in his first qualifying session with new crew chief Tony Gibson) and Kevin Harvick (198.836 mph). Stewart was sixth fastest in the final round after leading a parade of drivers who bettered the previous track record of 198.282 mph Harvick had set in April. Having advanced to the Eliminator Round without winning a race this season, Kenseth tested during the week at Homestead-Miami Speedway , where his team found some additional speed that translated to Texas. "We've got to get in practice (Saturday) and hopefully get it driving as good as it drove tonight for the race," Kenseth said of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, "because 500 miles is way different than qualifying. "But I thought we had a pretty good test at Homestead, and we stumbled on some things late that seemed to bring us up a step and bring us closer to the best guys. You never really know until you get through practice and get the race rolling and see what you've got." Stewart said his record lap, which took 26.985 seconds to complete, could have been even better. "We were going to be probably down to a 26.75 or 26.80 if I would have finished getting through (Turn) 4," Stewart said. "I got real tight and had to lift all the way out of the gas in the first round and still ran a 27.10, so it was going to be a big monster lap in the first round, but that's not the one that pays. "We hit it the second round, and I missed it in the third round--my fault." Likely needing a victory to advance to the season finale at Homestead, Brad Keselowski failed to advance to the second round and will start 26th on Sunday. Nevertheless, Keselowski was confident in the quality of his car in race trim. "I'm optimistic we can (win) in this round, and the reality is it will probably take that, said Keselowski, who is seventh in the Chase standings, 31 points behind Gordon. "I completely understand that and am ready for that challenge and hope we have the speed to make it happen. "The speed and execution… and I hope I don't screw it up if we do. When it comes down to moments like this, great teams have to step it up. I believe we are a great team, and I'm ready for the challenge." Other Chase drivers will start as follows: Ryan Newman , seventh; Joey Logano , 10th; Carl Edwards , 11th; and Denny Hamlin 20th. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
2003 champion says everyone has breaking point MORE: Keselowski responds " Full timeline of events in Kenseth -Keselowski dust up RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Everyone has his or her "breaking point," Matt Kenseth said, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver reached his following contact from Brad Keselowski during and after Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Kenseth pursued the Team Penske driver moments after the completion of the Bank of America 500 , grabbing Keselowski before crewmen from both teams, along with officials, rushed in to separate the two drivers. "Last week it was bad enough to run bad all night and to be frustrated; then get two tires and get toward the front (near the end of the race) -- Brad clearly saw me roll outside of him and he hung a right on purpose and he ran me right into the wall, ruined my night and possibly took us out of Chase contention," Kenseth said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . "So I was mad enough about that. To come down afterward and have your (safety equipment) off and your net down and come and pull those high school stunts … after the race is just absolutely unacceptable. "That definitely put me over the edge. I don't regret my actions; I'm not proud of them or happy about them or anything like that. … But I don't regret them. I don't know that I'd do anything different if the same thing would have gone down again." Keselowski moved up the track during a late-race restart, thwarting Kenseth's momentum and resulting in contact with the wall. Later, with six laps remaining, Kenseth was one of several drivers to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap without pitting. At that time, he said Friday, he did "swerve" at Keselowski "because I was mad he put me in the wall and totally ruined my day." Keselowski said after the race that Kenseth "came back and swung at my car and tore the front of the car off." Kenseth said the 2012 champion "is greatly exaggerating." "If you watch video you can see he had no marks on his right front of his car after that," Kenseth said. "He said it tore his whole right front off. … That was just him greatly exaggerating the story." As the field began to make its way to pit road, Keselowski attempted to spin Denny Hamlin (JGR), then struck the side of Kenseth's car as they came onto pit road. Keselowski ran into the back of Tony Stewart after hitting Kenseth . Stewart reacted by putting his car in reverse and backing into Keselowski, crumpling the front end of the No. 2 Ford. Hamlin attempted to confront Keselowski in the garage area, but all parties had gone their separate ways when Kenseth went after the Team Penske driver. "I just wanted to get to him, I guess," Kenseth said. "Not sure what I wanted to do when I got there. It was obvious I didn't really have a plan, right? "You never want to get into confrontations, at least I don't. I like to avoid them. I'm definitely not built for fighting; it's not really in my genes, it's not something I ever really want to do." NASCAR fined Keselowski ($50,000) and Stewart ($25,000) for their actions and placed both drivers on probation for the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. The sanctioning body did not penalize Kenseth or Hamlin. Three of the four -- Kenseth , Keselowski and Hamlin -- are among 10 drivers vying for one of eight spots in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Two spots have already been determined, with wins by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick automatically advancing those two drivers. Hamlin enters Sunday's GEICO 500 (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET) seventh in points; Kenseth and Keselowski are two of four drivers currently outside the top eight, along with six-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr . "I was probably more upset about getting (run) into the wall than I would have maybe been on week two of the season," Kenseth said. "There's probably a little bit (of frustration) there and some of that is frustration from the season of not running to our potential and being taken out of the Chase." Kenseth , the 2003 series champion, won seven races with JGR last year in his first season with the organization, but is winless thus far this year. "The stuff afterward of getting hit after the race, my reaction to that was besides taking my stuff off and thinking it's ridiculous to get hurt after a race is over by somebody acting like a little kid using a car for a weapon," he said. "I thought that was ridiculous, but that's the second time he's done that this year just to me. After the Richmond race he came and wiped us out down in Turn 2 and then came down pit road and took another slug at me and knocked the side off our car. "Besides people having to pay for (the cars) and work on them and all that stuff, it's just not acceptable. After that happening again was probably most of my reaction." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Joe Gibbs Racing driver hopes Kevin Harvick performs well Sunday RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota FORT WORTH, Texas -- Matt Kenseth said he hopes to see Kevin Harvick win one of the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, an unusual admission from a fellow competitor. But Kenseth , driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, knows he is to blame for the position Harvick finds himself in today. Contact from Kenseth sent the Stewart-Haas Racing driver into the wall last week at Martinsville Speedway , and the damage led to a 33rd-place finish, a drop from second to eighth in the points standings and the position of facing elimination from this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only four of the top eight will advance to Homestead, and only Texas and Phoenix remain in between. Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet has consistently been one of the fastest this season and the 38-year-old has three wins, including one in the Chase. Now, he has two races in which to regain what was lost in Turn 1 and keep his championship hopes alive. The two drivers chatted briefly before the start of practice Friday at Texas Motor Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Kenseth , speaking to the media earlier in the day, said he "couldn't feel any worse" about Harvick's situation. "I hope he has a really good week this week or next week and wins one of these races, and even if he doesn't, I think he'll run good enough, hopefully get in that last round," Kenseth said. "Because I know he doesn't want to get taken out of it for something he had nothing to do with, and I certainly don't want to be the guy that takes him out of it, so hopefully it all works out in the end." Kenseth's car sustained only minor damage in the Martinsville incident, and a sixth-place finish left him fourth in points heading into this week's race. Afterward, Harvick didn't promise retaliation, but said that Kenseth wouldn't "win this championship." "If we don't, he won't," Harvick said. Kenseth said Friday retaliation wasn't a concern, adding that, "I can only control my own car and what I do, and obviously I did a poor job of that last weekend." "I can't fix the situation," he added. "It's done. It's kind of like the guy that causes the wreck at Talladega, he feels terrible about it and … ruined a lot of people's day from the mistake he made. "Last week (at Martinsville) it was the same way, it was just, unfortunately (I) wrecked Kevin who was probably the favorite going into the Chase. It was terrible timing, wrong place at the wrong time. I understand his frustration; I would be just as frustrated." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation