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article imageNASCAR: Kenseth wins rain-delayed 'Chase' opener

By John Duarte     Sep 16, 2013 in Sports
Joliet - Matt Kenseth won the opening round of the 10-race championship shootout for NASCAR's top series glory, despite the race being delayed by bad weather for nearly six hours.
The “windy city” was more like “rainy city” as inclement weather played havoc with the opening race of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup on Sunday. The start of the race was initially delayed for approximately 90 minutes due to a mist falling on Chicagoland Speedway, but that was nothing compared to the five hours drivers spent waiting out the rain later. The Geico 400 finally got back under racing conditions at approximately 9 p.m. (local time).
Kenseth was out front then and that is where he stayed. After the race, Wisconsin-born driver said it felt great to finally win a race at Chicagoland, especially since it is so close to his home state.
“I've always wanted to win here in Chicago,” Kenseth said in Victory Lane. “We've been close a lot. It feels great to finally get a win here.”
Kenseth was the top-seeded driver entering this year's Chase and he didn't disappoint, earning his sixth win of the 2013 season.
“That was fun,” he said, savouring the career-best win and thanking his crew. “It's a record win for me... (but) It's all about you guys. You make me look good every week.”
Kyle Busch finished the race in second place and Kevin Harvick was third.
The Geico 400 was originally scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (local time), but that was delayed because of a wet track and the race finally got underway just after 2:30 p.m. Just short of the halfway point, NASCAR officials decided to red flag the race due to rain. That's the way it stayed for over five hours before the green flag flew again at approximately 9 p.m. (local time).
The official running time of the Geico 400 is listed at three hours, 10 minutes and 56 seconds. The actual time it took to win the race was much longer than that.
It was somewhat fitting the first race of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup was affected by weather issues. NASCAR universe had been under a dark cloud all week marred by allegations of “race fixing” that lead to Martin Truex Jr. being penalized and taken out of this year's championship run, replaced by Ryan Newman. NASCAR chairman Bill France also announced the Chase for the Sprint Cup, normally featuring the top 10 drivers in the standings during the season's first 26 races and two wild-card drivers with the most with the most wins but who had not finished in the Top 10 in the standings, would include a 13th driver this year, Jeff Gordon.
France said on Friday that Gordon “was unfairly disadvantaged” by the events at Federated Auto Parts 400, at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 7, and he would be added to this year's Chase field.
“I have the authority to (add Gordon). We are going to do that,” France said. “It is an unprecedented and extraordinary thing, but it’s also an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that unfolded in multiple different ways on Saturday night, and we believe this was the right outcome to protect the integrity (of NASCAR).”
By virtue of winning the first round, Kenseth leads this year's hunt for the Sprint Cup, with Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson ready to pounce.
With the opening round behind them, drivers now head for New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Sylvania 300, which runs Sept. 22. The 2013 Sprint Cup champion will be crowned on Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
More about Nascar, chase for the Sprint cup, Matt Kenseth, chicagoland speedway
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