By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
For the third race in a row at Kansas Speedway, the proceedings have been marred by a multi-car crash that has seen the night end early for several contenders.
A year ago, it was Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick, and Joey Logano that tangled up in a fiery crash that left Almirola with a broken back. Last fall, Erik Jones nearly flipped in a massive crash on the backstretch that collected 14 cars by the time all was said and done.
On Saturday night, it seemed as if we would be able to get through a Kansas race without calamity striking, but with 14 laps to go, that all went by the wayside.
As William Byron and Clint Bowyer raced through Turn 4 side-by-side, Byron broke loose and slid up the track, tagging Bowyer and sending him for a spin before making hard contact with the outside wall himself and landing on the hood of Ryan Newman’s car.
By the time the spinning was through, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Chris Buescher, and Ty Dillon found themselves involved as well.
The entire front end of Byron’s car was demolished after his contact with the wall, but all seven drivers emerged from their cars uninjured and they were evaluated and released from the infield care center.
With debris and damaged race cars littering the front stretch, NASCAR was forced to throw the red flag for 13 minutes and 13 seconds in order to get things cleaned up and back into racing shape for the final laps of the race.
“That one hurt really bad,” said Byron. “But, I’m fine. We took two tires there and couldn’t get it turned on the bottom and then got sucked around at the last minute. It just should have been lower than that. Just couldn’t rotate. Couldn’t cut. I think overall, we were trying to kind of push some things there and it just didn’t work out. But, we’re going to wherever is next and that was definitely the hardest hit I’ve been in. But, I’m thankful to be walking, so that’s good.”
For Bowyer, it was not the homecoming he was looking for as he was optimistic in his chances at finally scoring an elusive win at his home track. Though he had finished in the top-10 in the first two stages after charging from the back of the pack at the start of the race, he had been falling back, dealing with a loose handling car over the final stage.
“It was a solid run,” said Bowyer. “All weekend long it was just not our weekend. We had tech issues and didn’t get to qualify. We started in the back and got up through there pretty good, but then kind of stalled out. We got wrecked there. I was trying to get us up in the top five and got wrecked there. That’s just part of it I guess.”
As for Kenseth, his return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Roush-Fenway Racing wasn’t the night he was hoping for either. Struggling with handling all night long, the 2003 series champion just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when it came to the wreck.
“I don’t have any idea what happened with the wreck,” Kenseth said. “I just saw everybody wrecking and the track was kind of blocked, so I tried to get down towards the grass. This grass is not the new friendly grass with the rain and all it just kind of dug in and then I just hit the car in front of me.
“I expected us to be a little more competitive than that, so it was a really tough weekend all around. We obviously have some work to do. The good news is it’s got to get better.”