Matt Kenseth knew that he had a front-running car Sunday.
It was simply a matter of getting there.
So when a caution flag came out with several leaders on pit road, and Kenseth found himself leading the pack into the pits, he had a feeling things were going his way.
‘‘That was the key,’’ he said later.
Kenseth won the race off pit road after taking two tires under caution, and a No. 20 Toyota that had been strong all day slowly pulled away. Kasey Kahne trimmed into the lead once he moved into second, but Kenseth managed to block every move he tried to make.
Kahne pulled alongside him entering Turn 4 with the white flag flying, but Kenseth pulled back ahead along the front stretch and then cruised to the win in the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
‘‘When it was in front, we knew it was really fast,’’ Kenseth said after his second straight win at the track. ‘‘And if we could get out there first, we’d be tough to beat.’’
It was the third straight win from the pole in the Sprint Cup series.
‘‘The fastest car is supposed to win, right? That’s what racing is about,’’ Kenseth said. ‘‘I think it’s a little bit of a coincidence, the way things worked out.’’
Points leader Jimmie Johnson finished third with a car that kept getting better during long, green flag runs. Martin Truex Jr. came home in fourth and Clint Bowyer was fifth.
Brad Keselowski put a positive spin on an ugly week for Penske Racing.
Keselowski picked up some minor damage to the rear of his car early in the race, and fell a lap down when he was slow getting off pit road under caution. The damage kept getting worse as the laps ticked along, and eventually a huge piece of his rear end ripped off.
The No. 2 team managed to get it fixed up enough, and Keselowski slowly picked off positions in the waning laps to finish a heartening sixth after a frustrating week.
Penske Racing is appealing heavy sanctions handed down by NASCAR after an unapproved rear-end housing was found on its two cars last week at Texas. The penalties include six-race suspensions for seven-crew members, including both crew chiefs, $200,000 in fines, and 25-point penalties.
The date of the appeal hasn’t been set, allowing both teams to arrive in full at Kansas.
Joey Logano was knocked out of the race when his No. 22 Ford suffered a devastating head-to-head collision with another car.
IndyCar — Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race, taking the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California.
The win came in Sato’s 52d career start, and the first for A.J. Foyt Racing since Airton Dare won Kansas in 2002.
It was redemption for Sato, who probably is best known for crashing on the final lap of last year’s Indianapolis 500 while driving for Bobby Rahal.
Formula One — Sebastian Vettel won his second straight Bahrain Grand Prix, easily beating Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in a display that will bolster his chances of winning a fourth consecutive championship.
Vettel was heavily criticized last month after ignoring team orders and passing teammate Mark Webber for the victory in Malaysia.