LAS VEGAS — Matt Kenseth decided not to replace any tires during the final pit stop under caution, and the calculated risk put him in the lead.
Kenseth knows a bit about risk after his offseason move to Joe Gibbs Racing, and this latest gamble paid off with his third victory in Vegas. Kenseth won the Kobalt Tools 400 on his 41st birthday, holding off Kasey Kahne at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his 25th career victory Sunday.
Kenseth took charge by taking only fuel on the final pit stop during caution while almost everybody else replaced two tires. He took the lead and held onto it, using his veteran savvy to keep Kahne’s impressive Chevrolet behind him to the finish.
The laid-back Kenseth celebrated with uncommon vigor after his JGR Toyota crossed the line.
He’s still getting comfortable with his new teammates after leaving Roush Fenway Racing in the highest-profile driver move of the offseason, joining Gibbs after 13 seasons with RFR.
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski was third, with Kenseth’s teammate, Kyle Busch, fourth, and Carl Edwards fifth. Jimmie Johnson, the overall points leader, was sixth.
The win was the 50th for Toyota in Sprint Cup Series competition. Kenseth is just the third NASCAR driver to win on his birthday, joining Cale Yarborough — who did it twice — and Busch.
Danica Patrick struggled with her car from the start, going two laps down by the 60th lap, and later was penalized for a tire violation. She finished 33d.