Matt Kenseth entered the first race of the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway first in the points standings. When rain interrupted the race on lap 109, he was in first place. And when the Geico 400 finally concluded under the lights and just past midnight eastern time Monday morning, Kenseth was at the front once again.
Kenseth took the lead from teammate Kyle Busch immediately following a restart with 23 laps to go and drove away for his sixth win of the season in a race that was originally delayed by rain and then postponed for over five hours before resuming at 10 p.m. eastern time.
Busch was the leader on the restart, but Kenseth got a huge shove from Kevin Harvick into turn one and clearned Busch as the drivers hurtled through the corner. And that was all for the race for the lead. Kenseth wasn't challenged again.
Of course, the "get out front late and stay there" strategy is something that is easier said than done and, hell, really isn't even a strategy to begin with. But Sunday was Kenseth's fourth win of the season on a 1.5 mile track and in each of them he's held the lead on a late race restart and driven away from the field. And while he had to pass Busch, at least cursorily, on Sunday night, it was the same formula.
Oh, and it should also be pointed out that the winner at Chicago the past two seasons -- Tony Stewart in 2011 and Brad Keselowski in 2012 -- has gone on to win the Chase.
For Busch, it was a bitter way to lose out on the chance for his second weekend three-race sweep. He won Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race and Saturday's Nationwide Series race and had the car to beat before the caution flew for Justin Allgaier's second spin.
Eight Chase drivers finished in the top 10. Kevin Harvick was third, Kurt Busch was fourth and Jimmie Johnson was fifth. Jeff Gordon finished sixth, Clint Bowyer was ninth and Ryan Newman was 10th.