Kenseth wins Stage 2 as multi-car wreck eliminates several contenders

Matt Kenseth led 10 laps en route to his second stage win of 2017.

Kenseth wins Stage 2 as multi-car wreck eliminates several contenders

Kenseth outpaced his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in Stage 2 of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson was third followed by Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Ty Dillon, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney.

"Goodyear brought a tire with a little extra grip and I think it's got everybody not leaving a whole lot of extra room because it has a more grip than normal," Kenseth told NBC during the Stage break. "The (car) is really fast and it's probably the superspeedway car I've had since my first year at (Joe Gibbs Racing).

"I'm excited about that and hopefully I can make the right moves the rest of the day and keep it up near the front."

Erik Jones led the field to green on Lap 46 followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell, Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Ty Dillon and David Ragan.

Hamlin took the lead two laps later with Jones, Larson, Kahne and Bowyer rounding out the top-five.

Coming out of Turn 4 in 48, Suarez and McDowell had to abort the pack and bailed down pit road.

Jones led Lap 50 followed by Hamlin, Kahne, Bowyer, Earnhardt, McMurray, Keeselowski Menard and Ragan. Earnhardt was squeezed into the Turn 2 wall after contact from behind by Menard. Both Earnhardt and Kyle Larson came to pit road on Lap 52. Larson for a tire change.

Hamlin took the lead from Jones on Lap 54. Kahne moved to second followed by Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, Kurt Busch, Elliott, Keselowski, Jones and Bowyer. Earnhardt dropped to 36th, two laps down. Reported he had a tire going flat and had slowed down prior to contact with the No. 27 car.

Jeffrey Earnhardt triggered the fourth caution on Lap 58 as his engine expired. Hamlin was at the point followed by Kahne, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Bayne, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Jones, Johnson and Keselowski. Elliott, McMurray, Truex, Brendan Gaughan and Logano rounded out the top 15.

Hamlin remained at the point with 17 laps remaining to complete the stage with Kahne, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Bayne, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Johnson, Gaughan, Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick and David Ragan in tow. With a two-tire stop, Jones was the first car off of pit road. He lined up 16th.

Hamlin continued out front with Kahne and Kenseth battling for second over the next three laps. Bayne moved up to second on Lap 67, as Kenseth overtook Hamlin for the point on 68. Bayne took the lead two laps later.

Coming into the backstretch out of Turn 2, Kurt Busch got into his brother’s bumper as the No. 18 slowed following contact with McDowell. Kyle Busch spun into Logano to ignite the fifth caution on Lap 70. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Wallace, Patrick, Menard, McDowell and Jamie McMurray all received damage.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Kyle Busch said.

Bayne pitted and relinquished the lead to Kenseth. Hamlin, Johnson, Kahne, Ragan, McDowell, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Blaney and Wallace rounded out the top 10.

“I just saw the 18 spin out with no where to go,” Austin Dillon said after he was released from the infield care center.

With four laps to decide the stage, Kenseth took the inside lane with Hamlin alongside. McDowell moved up to fifth on Lap 78 followed by Ragan, Kurt Busch, Blaney, Wallace and Keselowski. With one lap to decide the stage, Busch moved to fifth.

Kenseth extended his lead over the field by 0.390-second at the line.

There were 18 lead changes among eight drivers in the first two stages. Wallace was the biggest mover after gaining 23 positions in the first two stages. Keselowski’s 35 laps were the most led.

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