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Kenseth ends drought with Nationwide series win

HAMPTON - It wasn't pretty, but Matt Kenseth was just happy to be in a NASCAR Nationwide Series Victory Circle after nearly a year.

Kenseth passed Jeff Burton for the lead on lap 186 of Saturday's Nicorette 300, a race extended three laps beyond its scheduled 195 laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway by a late caution flag.

Kenseth, who acknowledged he didn't have the fastest car, managed to hold off Kevin Harvick by about three car-lengths in a green-white-checker shootout, winning for the first time since April 14 at Texas - a stretch of 18 races.

'About time, huh?' Kenseth said, smiling. 'You certainly think about getting beat at the end. That happened to us a few times last year.'

Kyle Busch looked like a runaway winner as he led 153 of the first 170 laps before blowing a tire and hitting the wall for the second straight week. That left the battle to Kenseth, Burton and Kevin Harvick.

After Kenseth took the lead, Burton faded and Harvick gave chase to the leader, looking several times like he could catch him. But a bad pit stop and ill-timed caution flags at the end allowed Kenseth to maintain control on the way to his 24th Nationwide victory.

'Kevin was really fast,' Kenseth said. 'On short runs, I could beat him . After a few laps, he could beat me pretty good.'

When Busch hit the wall on lap 170, it brought out the sixth of eight caution flags in the race and sent the leaders to pit road. Harvick went into the pits in front, but came out sixth.

'I don't think anything happened,' the disappointed former series champion said. 'It was just slow. I'm really disappointed. We gave it away on pit road there at the end. When you get handed these situations, you've got to capitalize on them.'

He still thought he could catch Kenseth, but two more caution flags kept cutting off his pursuit.

SideBar: Sprint Cup

What: Kobalt Tools 500

When: Today, 1:30 p.m.

Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton

TV: Fox