Deuces Wild: STP 400

Penske Racing had a charmed weekend at Kansas, with one driver on the pole and the other in Victory Lane. While fuel mileage played a huge factor in the end result, there was no denying the blue deuces could handle the challenge.

Kurt Busch, #22 AAA Dodge (Started: 1, Finished: 9)
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
Busch slipped to fifth early on and informed crew chief Steve Addington he was displeased with the performance of his car. As seems standard this season for Busch, he ate his words a few laps later when he battled forward. By Lap 17, he was back to first and proceeded to claim the most laps lead.

Busch lost the lead to the #99 Aflac Ford Fusion of Carl Edwards. On the second caution, an overtasked fuel man cost Busch two seconds and six positions as he attempted to make adjustments while fueling the car. Busch came off pit road, swearing the axe on his pit crew coach (another pit crew member was recently replaced after costing Busch positions).

At Lap 129, Busch battled Kevin Harvick (#29 Budweiser Chevrolet) and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowes Chevrolet) for sixth. Fifteen laps later he drove down his brother Kyle (#18 M&Ms Toyota) for fifth.

After the fourth caution, Busch went three wide with Tony Stewart (#14 The Glades/Office Depot Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (#11 FedEx Toyota) for the lead. He took it and for the most part remained in the lead until his final green flag stop. Busch pitted with 10 laps to go, then nearly pulled a caution when his car wouldn't take the fuel. In spite of his troubles, he stayed on the lead lap and battled forward to finish ninth.

Busch remained 6th in points (+/- 0).

Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite/Ruby Tuesdays Dodge (Started: 25, Finished: 1)
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
After wrecking in the last laps at Charlotte with plenty of fuel to finish and beginning his weekend with his fifth Nationwide season DNF, Keselowski was itching for a solid finish.

By Lap 33, Keselowski had hacked into the top-20 and sat in 17th. His steady climb hiccuped briefly when he dropped back to 19th at Lap 47, but just two laps later he was in the top-15.

Keselowski bounced between 10th and 11th from Lap 127 until the fourth caution flew at Lap 153. The #2 pit crew gained two spots off of pit road and he restarted 9th.

With 99 laps to go, Keselowski had dropped back to 12th, but proved he could battle back into the top-10. With 57 laps left, he made his final green flag pit stop, which put the checkered flag right near the end of his fuel window.

Lap 227 found Keselowski looking around Kevin Harvick for 7th. Just 10 laps later, he was directed to go into fuel conservation mode after calculations from the pit box showed he was 3/4 of a lap short on fuel.

Final green flag stops began at Lap 242, but #2 crew chief Paul Wolfe trusted his driver had saved enough fuel to make it to the end of the race and did not call Keselowski in. With just 10 laps to go, Keselowski inherited the race lead when teammate Kurt Busch dropped onto pit road for his final stop.

The #2 held a 4+ second lead over second place Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (#88 Amp Chevrolet), though Keselowski didn't know at the time that he was leading. He expertly coasted through the turns, saving fuel by pushing in the clutch just before the turns and not letting up until he fully exited. His lead remained in the neighborhood of four seconds as Earnhardt had also been instructed to save fuel.

With two laps left, Keselowski discovered he was the race leader but continued on with his fuel strategy. After 74 winless races he took the checkered flag, though it was not the one he waved through his victory donuts. Keselowski drove onto the grass, where a crew member brought the outspoken and extremely patriotic driver an American flag.

Keselowski rose to 21st in point standings (+4).
Deuces Wild: STP 400 Deuces Wild: STP 400 Reviewed by Génette Wood on Monday, June 06, 2011 Rating: 5