Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson escape Kansas atop the points standings

Nick Bromberg

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Jimmie Johnson was tearing through the field at the end of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Kansas, picking off positions in the top 10 like he was dicing through backmarkers in a Nationwide race. With Matt Kenseth outside the top 10, Johnson had a great opportunity to snare the points lead.

Instead, Johnson went from sailing to struggling almost instantly.

"I really feel like we had the fastest car today, but just couldn't get there with issues and track position and cautions at weird times and restarts were kind of an issue," Johnson said. "And there was a lot of craziness there. And then coming with two to go, we had something go wrong with either the ignition or the engine there and I had to give up a spot and limped it home. I feel kind of bummed out that we left some points on the table, but at the same time, I'm happy I made it to the finish line under power and I got a nice finish."

Johnson finished sixth. Kenseth was outside the top 10 because he had pitted under green just before the race's final caution flag flew. That threw him back in the pack a second time after first having to go all the way back to 30th earlier in the race after a pit road speeding penalty.

But while Johnson was making his move, so was Kenseth. He got to 11th before the checkered flag and now holds a three point lead over Johnson through four Chase races.

"I feel lucky for not being wrecked. And, I feel really fortunate to still be leading the points. It was not the day we wanted -- both the last two weeks," Kenseth said. We struggled a little bit and still salvaged -- it could have been worse, we could have been backed into the fence."

The race featured several wrecked race cars, including that of Kenseth's teammate Kyle Busch, and a race record 15 cautions. Johnson called the race "treacherous" while Kenseth said that it was the worst conditions he'd raced in since the 2005 fall Charlotte race after that track was recently repaved.

"This right side tire was obviously not the answer," Kenseth said. "I'm sure (race winner) Kevin's (Harvick) happy, but other than that I think everybody kind of struggled with it."