Kenseth Wins GFS Marketplace 400

Jeff Gordon wanted to prove a point, but Matt Kenseth wouldn't allow it today at Michigan International Speedway in the NASCAR Nextel Cup GFS Marketplace 400. Flash back to Chicagoland Speedway in July when Gordon spun out Kenseth on the last lap to filch a victory. And let's call to mind the Bristol race in March when Kenseth spun out race-leader Gordon to finish third, knocking Gordon back to 21st. Kenseth approached Gordon after the Chicago race to apologize, but Gordon pushed him hard in the chest with both hands, knocking Kenseth backwards. The final laps today appeared ready to boil down to a Kenseth-Gordon rematch, but before Gordon could get close enough to make it interesting Kenseth put a lid on his third win of the season, 13th of his career and second at MIS. "This would have been a good makeup for what happened at Chicago and I wanted to prove I can pass clean and race clean because I like racing Matt," Gordon explained. "Two more laps and I might have had him. I hated that I got into him and spun him out at Chicago. I like to race guys hard for the win. It's much more rewarding to beat a guy racing and not by taking him out." Gordon closed quickly on Kenseth over the final laps, cutting a two-second deficit to almost a half second, but could get no closer, with Kenseth winning by 0.622 seconds or about eight car lengths. Asked what he was thinking during the final laps with Gordon running him down, Kenseth said, "That he wouldn't catch me. I had flashbacks to Chicago, Bristol and Las Vegas where Jimmie (Johnson) beat me. I lost all three when my crew had put me in position to win. I probably overdrove the car in all three races. I got a big lead each time and then the car got too tight. I got run into twice and passed once in those three races and I had all three on my mind because of that." Kenseth remained in second place in the race to qualify for the 10-race Chase to decide the Nextel Cup championship with three races remaining. But he cut deeply into point-leader Johnson's margin. Kenseth trailed Johnson by 124 points at the start of the day, but finished just 58 behind. In 15 Nextel Cup races at Michigan, Kenseth has finished every lap and has the highest average finish among all drivers with at least 10 starts at 8.428 coming into today's race. Gordon made the most substantial jump of the day among the top 10 in points, going from ninth to sixth. Pole-sitter Jeff Burton suffered the biggest fall in the standings, dropping from fourth to ninth following his 42nd place finish when his engine expired 17 laps into the race. While there were a lot of changes among those in the top 10, the same 10 drivers remained at the top of the points. But the points chase is getting much tighter. Six of the top 11 drivers are separated by just 35 points or less. Only 138 points separate fourth to 11th in the standings. Tony Stewart finished third, followed by Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Greg Biffle. There were a record 10 caution periods. The previous MIS record was nine caution periods set in five previous races.

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