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Race Rewind: Looking back at the STP 400

- dscott@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013

Observations

• It looks like Matt Kenseth's decision to leave Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing (thought to be risky at the time) has paid off. He's already won twice with his new team and he's also the new king of Kansas (with a victory in last fall's race for Roush Fenway).

• It's been a while since races have been won from the pole three consecutive times, which is what has happened this season after Kenseth's victory Sunday. The last time it happened was 1985 when Bill Elliott (Richmond), Dale Earnhardt Sr. (Bristol) and Elliott (Darlington) did it.

• Who was the grand marshal for the STP 400 and gave the orders to start the engines? Why, Richard Petty, of course.

Notebook

Keselowski counts his blessings after damage

Brad Keselowski finished sixth, despite running the latter part of the race with much of his left-rear quarter panel torn off.

"I could feel something was wrong, but I couldn't see it so you don't know what the magnitude of it is," said Keselowski. "Obviously, it must have been pretty severe."

Keselowski was tagged early in the race by Mike Bliss, loosening the quarter panel, but not enough for it to come apart until late in the race.

"Usually, you're not happy unless you win," said Keselowski. "But a day where you can fight through adversity like we did today and get a solid finish, that kind of is a win, yes."

Tough luck: Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. got their first Sprint Cup starts of the season and things ended early and badly for both of them. Sadler, running for Joe Gibbs Racing, wrecked on 85. Hornish had an accident on Lap 181.

"I just wish we could have done a little bit better," said Hornish. "We got off on our strategy early and this is so much about track position here and how you're running through your tires - whether you're taking two or four. We just got ourselves out of sequence and could never make it back up again."

Said Sadler: hat happened that took you out of the race?

"The car was kind of darting around a little bit and I was just kind fighting the steering of it some. (The day) just ended a lot shorter than I wanted to."

Almirola on a roll: Aric Almirola's eighth-place finish is his second consecutive top 10, the first time that's happened in his Cup career (he was seventh at Texas last week). He's also had two straight top-10 finishes in the Nationwide and truck series.

Sauter's fuel cell confiscated: NASCAR officials said Sunday that the fuel cell of Trucks points leader Johnny Sauter was confiscated during Thursday's practice session at Kansas. The fuel cell will be reviewed by NASCAR early this week. Sauter finished fifth in Saturday's race.

5 Key Moments

• Kenseth flexes his muscles early, jumping away from the field at the green flag and leading 110 of the first 111 laps.

• Martin Truex leads from Laps 122-146, the longest stretch of any driver aside from Kenseth to be in front.

• Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. goes to the lead on Lap 191 and stays in front for the next 25 laps.

• Kenseth retakes the lead from Stenhouse on Lap 216. He wouldn't give it up.

• Kahne nearly gets past Kenseth on Lap 266 - the second-to-last of the race -- but Kenseth holds him off.

Next race

Toyota Owners 400

Where: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox.

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year's winner: Kyle Busch

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