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Brad Keselowski Dominates to Win Quaker State 400

Brad Keselowski Dominates to Win Quaker State 400

by June 29, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Robert Leberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

SPARTA, Ky. — In a run that can only be described as dominating, Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) became the fifth different driver to win multiple races this season by winning the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway.

Keselowski and his Penske teammate, Joey Logano, dominated Saturday night’s race by combining to lead 236 laps with Keselowski contributing 199 laps to that total. Keselowski’s win not only makes him a two-time winner this season but also makes him the first multi-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky – the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Fusion previously went to victory lane at the track in 2012.

“We had a really great race car,” Keselowski said. “It just kind of came together for us really across the weekend from qualifying to race practice and then the race. It looked like they were going to come unravelled at the end there with that yellow right in the middle of the pit sequence which was really scary. We kind of parted the deal and we came down to restart sixth there with 51-52 to go and I knew it was going to be a dogfight to get back to Kyle [Busch] and race him but we got there with a really fast car and the perfect run on him there with traffic and next thing I knew, we were there!”

The Rochester Hills, Michigan native would hold off Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing), Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing), Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing), and Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) to win his 12th career Sprint Cup Series race. Busch would put in a valiant effort at the end but would ultimately have nothing for the 2012 winner at the track.

“We had a good car all night,” Busch said. “We started 18th and worked our way forward every run of the race there, I got to about third and kind of stalled out, third-fourth. I felt like we were better than the 31 but nowhere near as good as the 2 and 22, those guys were really stout. … Definitely proud of Dave Rogers [Busch’s crew chief] – the brain power – and everybody that worked on this thing here this weekend that gave us a good M&M’s Toyota Camry to finish second because we were out to lunch yesterday. We haven’t been great this year so this is certainly a step in the right direction – it feels nice to have a solid run and lead some laps and although we faded out the end we gave it a valiant effort so hopefully we can take some of this and move forward with it.”

The 2012 series champion immediately went to work after starting on the pole, rocketing out ahead of Logano and Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) to claim the early lead. Hamlin’s day would quickly go south as he would smack the Turn 4 wall hard after cutting a tire from the third position; Hamlin would climb out of his No. 11 FedEx Camry under his own power as the leaders darted down pit road for their first round of service of the night.

Keselowski would maintain the lead through the first pit cycle and would continue to hold it after the first restart of the night ahead of Logano as Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing) would join the fray and move around the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Fusion to take second. The second caution flag of the night would fly on Lap 77 as rookie Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) would hit the wall in Turn 2, ending his night. The leaders would hit pit road once again as the first lead change of the night would occur as Logano would lead his teammate, Busch, Newman, and Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) off of pit road.

Logano’s lead would prove to be brief as the Blue (or in tonight’s case, the Red, White, and Blue) Deuce would blow by the No. 22 car on Lap 87. Keselowski would keep a stranglehold on a lead during the run as no driver would come close to the back bumper of his car until a debris caution would be thrown on Lap 126. Once more, Logano would grab the lead off of pit road with his teammate falling to fourth for the restart. Logano would lead the field to green on Lap 132 and would hold it for 16 laps until Keselowski would once again pass this season’s Texas and Richmond winner. By this point of the race, the Team Penske duo had combined to lead every single lap of the race.

Caution number four would occur on Lap 153 as another rookie, Alex Bowman (BK Racing), would go for a spin which would cause Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing), Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports), and Kahne to all take damage while slowing up to avoid the spinning No. 23 car. Another round of pit stops occurred under the yellow flag as Logano’s pit crew led by Todd Gordon would once again get their driver out to the lead off of pit road. Keselowski would not let his teammate escape easily on the Lap 161 restart as he would grab the lead back just two laps later.

Shortly after the race broke the 100 to go mark, David Stremme (Hillman-Circle Sport LLC) would bring out the caution on Lap 176 as he would spin his Chevrolet SS out between Turns 3 and 4. Only some of the leaders would come down pit road with several of the drivers taking a gamble and only taking on two tires; Keselowski, Logano, Newman, and Busch would be the only lead-lap drivers to stay out.

Busch would take it three-wide on the Lap 182 restart, a move that would allow Logano to retake the lead. Some of the leaders including Busch, Newman, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports) would come down pit road on Lap 213 for what would be their final service of the night; as they did so, Almirola would hit the wall hard enough to bring out the caution – sending the iconic No. 43 to the garage. As the remaining leaders came down to pit road, Busch would become the first non-Penske driver to lead the race as he would lead the field to green on Lap 220 after all pit stops completely cycled through.

Busch would get out to a strong lead over the rest of the field but Keselowski would soon begin to reel in the No. 18 M&M’s Camry. As Keselowski began to make forward progress, Logano would begin to fall back as his engine began to overheat; Logano would be able to nurse his car to the finish for over 20 laps to record a ninth-place result. Up front, Keselowski would take the lead on Lap 248 and would never look back – going on to put a 1.014-second lead over Busch by the conclusion of the race.

With his second win of the season, Keselowski was able to close the gap to points leader Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports) to 58 points. Gordon and Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt still hold a stranglehold of the top-three spots in the standings. Gordon will take a 24-point lead over both Johnson and Earnhardt to Daytona for next Saturday’s Coke Zero 400.

Top-10 Finishers of the Quaker State 400

  1. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske
  2. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  3. 31 – Ryan Newman – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  4. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  5. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  6. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  7. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  8. 5 – Kasey Kahne – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  9. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske
  10. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports

Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 17 of 36

  1. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports – 618 | Leader
  2. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Hendrick Motorsports – 594 | -24
  3. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Hendrick Motorsports – 594 | -24
  4. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Team Penske – 560 | -58
  5. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Joe Gibbs Racing – 555 | -63
  6. 99 – Carl Edwards – Roush-Fenway Racing – 536 | -82
  7. 22 – Joey Logano – Team Penske – 519 | -99
  8. 31 – Ryan Newman – Richard Childress Racing – 514 | -104
  9. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing – 509 | -109
  10. 18 – Kyle Busch – Joe Gibbs Racing – 508 | -110

Currently in Chase: 48 – Johnson, 88 – Earnhardt Jr., 2 – Keselowski, 99 – Edwards, 22 – Logano, 4 – Harvick, 24 – Gordon, 18 – Kyle Busch, 11 – Hamlin, 41 – Kurt Busch, 20 – Kenseth, 31 – Newman, 27 – Menard, 42 – Larson, 16 – Biffle, 15 – Bowyer.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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