Brad Keselowski sputters to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway

Brad Keselowski saved enough fuel to celebrate his win
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
In the inaugural June race for Kansas Speedway, fuel mileage eventually determined the final rundown with Brad Keselowski coasting to the start/finish line on fumes, giving Penske Racing its first victory since Kurt Busch won the Coca-Cola 600 last May. This is Keselowski’s second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, with his last victory coming at Talladega Superspeedway in 2009.

“It was hot out there,” said Keselowski. “We’ve been so close. We’ve been plugging away. We had a car that I thought was capable of winning. I had a car last week that sat on the pole and had a shot at it and just caught the wrong line of the restart. The same thing at Dover and Darlington, we could just never catch that good break. You can only put yourself in that position so many times before you’re going to catch the right break. We caught a great break today because of all the hard work by the Miller Lite team that works on these Dodge Chargers. We got great gas mileage and that doesn’t hurt either.”

Keselowski is now 21st in points, seven points outside of the top 20. Though the chances of Keselowski working his way up into the top 10 in points before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins in September is unlikely, Keselowski may be eligible for a wild card position if he is able to make it into the top 20 in points. NASCAR’s rules say that after 26 races, aside from the top 10 in points, two wild card positions will be filled with the two drivers inside the top 20 with the most wins also receiving a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs.
Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Meanwhile, back in second, the man who gave Keselowski the break he needed to make it in this sport was also coasting to the finish on fumes. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who said he ran out of fuel on the backstretch, tied his best finish of the 2011 season and gained one position in the points to move up to third. He is now 41 points back from leader Carl Edwards.

"I had a good car, you know," said Earnhardt. "I spun out there trying to find a little more speed on the top. We had a fast car though. Just started way back there in the back, man. We ain't qualified no better than 22nd besides Daytona and Talladega. We need to fix that somehow. It was a fast car." 

Earnhardt qualified 28th and spun on lap 154. However, the No. 88 Chevrolet sustained no damage and he was able to continue on in the race. 

Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Columbia, MO native Carl Edwards in fifth. Edwards was disappointed he was unable to win at his home track, even though he was able to lead a total of 29 laps.

“I really wanted to win and it is really hard to win here,” said Edwards. “Today was a little bit extra difficult because the track was changing a lot. The first third of the race and even the first half, our Aflac Ford Fusion was superior. It was great. Bob and I didn’t change the car enough to keep up with the conditions. We had a restart and I went backwards in a hurry and I thought we had to really gather it up. We did that and made it up to fifth. I had a good time, though. It is a fun race track and it is my new favorite track. When it is hot and slick like this, you can slide the cars around and run multiple grooves. It is a lot of fun and I like it.”

Keselowski’s teammate Kurt Busch was the dominant driver of the day, leading 152 of the 267 laps to finish in the ninth position. Busch, who has struggled in recent weeks, was gracious to teammate Keselowski and seemed happy with the progress the team had made.

“I’m proud of the way that this team has run,” said Busch. “To have a car to lead laps today and be very competitive, I was all smiles. I felt coming into the weekend that if we could pace ourselves, have good team communication, we would be competitive. It was great. There was always something in the back of my mind today that we weren’t going to win, but I’m glad that Brad Keselowski got this win for those Miller Lite guys, for Dodge. We’re really happy to keep AAA up front all day today. It’s just one of those days where you’re on the right side, sometimes you’re not. For all my guys, we’ll take this one and the points. I’m not discouraged at all.”

Following his Camping World Truck Series victory on Saturday, Emporia, Kan. native Clint Bowyer finished in the 18th position, while Joplin, Mo. native Jamie McMurray finished 29th.

The STP 400 was slowed five times for caution periods, with three of them thrown for debris on the racing surface. Landon Cassill and Earnhardt were the only two drivers that caused a caution through all 400 miles.

Edwards continues to lead the standings, now holding a 40 point advantage over second-place Jimmie Johnson. Earnhardt is 41 back in third, followed by Kevin Harvick in fourth and Kyle Busch in fifth.

Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 500. Coverage beings Sunday, June 12, at 1 p.m. ET on TNT.
Brad Keselowski sputters to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway Brad Keselowski sputters to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Sunday, June 05, 2011 Rating: 5