Brad Keselowski Draws First Blood in 400

Brad Keselowski Draws First Blood in 400

by September 14, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

JOLIET, Ill. — Brad Keselowski sent quite a message to the Chase field Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway – if you’re to win this year’s Sprint Cup championship, you’re going to have to go through him.

Keselowski won a thriller in Chicagoland by taking the checkererd flag in the 400 for his fifth win of the season. With his win, the 15th of his career, Keselowski clinched a berth in the next round of the Chase – the Contender Round.

Keselowski would take advantage of a battle between Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick to grab the lead in the closing stages of the race and would use a battle between Jeff Gordon and Larson to run away from the field and take the win. The 2012 series champion lead a total of 62 laps en route to the win.

This is the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford’s second career win at Chicagoland and the eighth win of the season for Team Penske.

“I guess you couldn’t ask for a better way to start the Chase, maybe other than starting up front,” Keselowski said. “Just phenomenal with the way things played out. I don’t know if we were the fastest car, there were some runs where I thought we were really fast and then some runs where I thought the 4 and 42 were really fast. It was so hard to tell. Whoever had the cleanest air [had] such an advantage…

I think the 42 was quite a bit faster as the long run went. We got that yellow. Things evened out. We were able to take advantage from there.”

Gordon would come home second by 1.759 seconds and would post his 10th top-five finish of the year. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet’s strong performance would place himself second in the standings, seven points behind today’s race winner in the drivers’ standings entering Loudon next week.

“We had a pretty solid day, we started eighth,” Gordon said.”We were able to drive up into the top two-or-three fairly early in the race. I knew we had a solid car. … Our car was just solid. That’s the way you want to get this thing started. Brad did a great job on that restart. He got the win.”

Larson would come up just short of earning his first career victory with his third-place run, a tire rub on the last caution would prevent the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet from catching up to Keselowski.

“It was a good race,” Larson said of his day. “We were in a backup car [due to an accident in practice.] It was hauling butt, it was really good. Knew from the drop of the green flag we’d be pretty good. Once the line got around the wall where I like to run a lot, we were really fast… Stinks we got third. Coming up close as often as I have this year is going to make that first win feel that much more special. “

Following the top-three across the finish line would be Joey Logano, Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Matt Kenseth in the top-10.

The Chase field would encounter plenty of problems throughout the race. Kurt Busch and Kenseth would both go for spins while they tried to enter pit road while Ryan Newman would have multiple issues throughout the day.

Three Ford Chasers would have issues as well with Aric Almirola’s engine expiring on Lap 230 and Carl Edwards having issues with his left rear tire midway through the race. Logano’s engine would blow up as he would cross the finish line in fourth-place.

Six caution flags would fly during the race with four being officially thrown due to debris. Clint Bowyer would bring out the fifth caution of the day by getting into the Turn 2 wall by himself and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick would bring out the final caution of the night due to both being involved in a wreck.

Entering Loudon, Keselowski leads Gordon by seven points with Logano, Harvick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind him in the top-five of the standings. Edwards, Newman, A.J. Allmendinger, and Greg Biffle make up the four drivers who are presently at risk of elimination should they not advance their points position by the end of the AAA 400 at Dover in two weeks.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway next for the second round of the Challenger Round – the Sylvania 300.

Top-10 Finishers of the 400

  1. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske
  2. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  3. 42 – Kyle Larson# – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing
  4. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske
  5. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  6. 11 – Denny Hamlin – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  7. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  8. 41 – Kurt Busch – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  9. 1 – Jamie McMurray – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing
  10. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing

Chase Standings after Race 1 of 3 of the Challenger Round

  1. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Team Penske – 2059 | Leader | CLINCHED CONTENDER BERTH
  2. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports – 2052 | -7
  3. 22 – Joey Logano – Team Penske – 2049 | -10
  4. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing – 2047 | -12
  5. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Hendrick Motorsports – 2042 | -17
  6. 11 – Denny Hamlin – Joe Gibbs Racing – 2041 | -18
  7. 18 – Kyle Busch – Joe Gibbs Racing – 2041 | -18
  8. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Hendrick Motorsports – 2041 | -18
  9. 41 – Kurt Busch – Stewart-Haas Racing – 2039 | -20
  10. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Joe Gibbs Racing – 2034 | -25
  11. 5 – Kasey Kahne – Hendrick Motorsports – 2034 | -25
  12. 99 – Carl Edwards – Roush-Fenway Racing – 2030 | -29
  13. 31 – Ryan Newman – Richard Childress Racing – 2029 | -30
  14. 47 – A.J. Allmendinger – JTG Daugherty Racing – 2025 | -34
  15. 16 – Greg Biffle – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing – 2021 | -38
  16. 43 – Aric Almirola – Ford – Richard Petty Motorsports – 2007 | -52

# = Rookie.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

Leave a Comment