Many have been saying that the Chase for the Sprint Cup is now a three-man race. Others were saying "Wait until Talladega" before making any claims like that. What they should have been saying was "Wait until Kansas."
Goodyear brought their new Dual-tread tire to the race track for just the second time this season after universal praise when it was used at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day. But the weekend started off with the exact opposite of praise from just about everybody in the garage area. Many drivers complained during Thursday's test session that the tire wasn't "in the track" like they'd like it to be. Then in Saturday's practice the tire wasn't degrading like normal. Instead of laying down balls of rubber it produced a fine dust.
During the race there were no tire failures, but there was no grip as well. Drivers were slipping and sliding all over the place. The end result was 15 cautions, a track record, for a total of 71 laps behind the caution car. One of those cautions was for a fire in the bushes just beyond the turn-one fence.
But through the whole weekend the one constant was a fast no. 29 car driven by Kevin Harvick. He qualified on the pole on Friday, his first since the September New Hampshire race in 2006. He led a total of 138 of 267 laps en route to his third victory of the season. He's the only driver outside of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable to win on a 1.5 mile race track.
Harvick may have been the dominant car, but things weren't as easy as they appeared for the Budweiser team. Harvick pit from the lead under green before lap 100, but just two laps later the caution came out for debris. Harvick was dropped team in the field and forced to take the wave-around. In the lead his car was fast, but in traffic he said the car was terrible. He said after the race that it was "like driving two race cars" because the car was so drastically different in dirty air compared to clean air.
The win helped Harvick in the points standings. He entered the race tied with Jeff Gordon for fourth, 39 points behind Kenseth. Now Harvick heads to Charlotte (where he won in May) 25 points behind Kenseth in sole possession of third place.
Kyle Busch was in third coming into Kansas, this track has plagued him recently and that continued again this weekend. He crashed in Saturday's first practice session which forced him to a backup car and the rear of the field to start the race. He made his way to the front, but went back to the back after he was spun by Juan Pablo Montoya on lap 187 on the frontstretch. Just 13 laps later Busch's race ended when he went into turn one on the outside of a three-wide situation on a restart. He and Carl Edwards made contact and Busch went into the wall hard.
Busch's bad day in Kansas dropped him to fifth in the standings, 35 points behind Kenseth.
Kenseth heads to Charlotte on Saturday night with a narrow three-point lead over Jimmie Johnson with five races remaining in the Chase for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.