Matt Kenseth claimed his third NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season in Sunday's Chase round at Kansas, despite early contact with the wall.
The Roush Fenway driver emerged up front from the final round of pit stops, which took place under the 13th of a record 14 cautions at the reconfigured track.
Kenseth made the outside lane work for him on the final two restarts and was able to pull away, first from Hendrick's Kasey Kahne and then from Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr., his closest pursuer on the final run to the flag.
The 2003 Cup champion finished with a damaged right-side after hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 2 on lap 172 while trying to avoid a spinning Aric Almirola. The Cuban-American had been a leading contender before hitting the wall twice due to left-front tire issues on his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
"I thought it was over when I got in the fence when Aric wrecked [while running] under Mark [Martin]," said Kenseth. "I was watching them and trying to make sure I didn't hit them and I flat-sided it pretty bad. It ended up working in our favor. They fixed the body as good as it was when we started and we had to take less gas in that last pit stop and this pit crew put me out front."
The new track surface, which kept changing grip levels throughout the weekend, caught out many of the strong contenders – including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who led 44 laps before losing control of his car on lap 137, shortly after an ill-timed pit stop just before a yellow dropped him back.
The Hendrick driver was eventually able to recover after his crew worked miracles to repair the No. 48 Chevrolet's battered rear. Johnson finished ninth, right behind Chase leader Brad Keselowski, who was not among the day's strong contenders but still kept his seven-point lead in the championship.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin battled to a 13th-place finish, having lost a lap when he pitted just before the yellow for Almirola. Hamlin also needed an extra fuel stop later on, but the final caution allowed him to make up some ground in the closing stages.
Kahne and MWR's Clint Bowyer gained in the Chase by finishing ahead of the championship leaders, taking fourth and sixth at the flag. Ahead of them, Paul Menard was best of the non-Chasers in third, while Tony Stewart split them in fifth, recovering from a spin 100 laps from the end and earlier contact with Jeff Burton.
Greg Biffle was another Chase contender in trouble, hitting the wall hard on lap 176 following a solid run.
Danica Patrick retired from the race after a clash with BK Racing's Landon Cassill. The Stewart-Haas racer came off worst while trying to retaliate against him for an earlier incident.
Regan Smith, filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in what is expected to be his final outing in the No. 88 car, finished a strong seventh ahead of the championship leader.
Phoenix Racing's AJ Allmendinger had a promising run on his second outing since his return and was sixth in the order when a blown tire put him in the wall on lap 72.
Results - 267 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 3h28m48.000s
2. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 0.495s
3. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 1.708s
4. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.990s
5. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 5.733s
6. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 6.667s
7. Regan Smith Hendrick Chevrolet + 7.107s
8. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 7.592s
9. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 7.960s
10. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 10.947s
11. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 12.941s
12. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 13.553s
13. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 15.557s
14. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 16.598s
15. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 18.037s
16. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 18.495s
17. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 18.833s
18. Landon Cassill BK Toyota + 20.320s
19. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 22.999s
20. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 24.508s
21. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford + 26.134s
22. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford + 30.940s
23. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 1 lap
24. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 1 lap
25. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet + 2 laps
Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge 234 laps
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 227 laps*
Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 214 laps*
Aric Almirola Petty Ford 212 laps
Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 188 laps
Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 181 laps
Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 154 laps
Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 140 laps
Scott Speed Leavine Ford 77 laps
AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet 69 laps
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 47 laps
Casey Mears Germain Ford 29 laps
Kelly Bires Go Green Ford 28 laps
Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 25 laps
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 22 laps
Reed Sorenson Humphrey Smith Toyota 18 laps
JJ Yeley Max Q Chevrolet 11 laps
Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 7 laps
* Running again at finish