Brad Keselowski proved he is in it to win it. With today’s chase race in the books, Keselowski now has two chase wins, winning the 43rd Annual AAA 400 at the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway.
Keselowski played the fuel mileage card perfectly Sunday; stretching the fuel in his #2 Miller-Lite Dodge more than 80 laps to the checkered flag to notch his fifth victory of the season and the second victory of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“The Dodge team has done a phenomenal job with these engines,” Keselowski said. “I’m just proud of the effort, man. This has been one of our weakest tracks. We just keep hanging around, and when you do that, good things happen.”
Even with the remarkable mileage Dodge has been getting, Penske and Dodge are parting ways after the last remaining seven Chase races, with Dodge ultimately leaving NASCAR for the time being.
Kyle Busch led 302 of 400 laps but wound-up seventh one lap down after making a late stop for fuel. Jimmie Johnson took up the torch from Busch, on lap 312 when the caution came out for Matt Kenseth, Johnson went on to lead 43 laps, before crew chief Chad Knaus told him to start saving gas, he then gave up first back to Busch as the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet slowed down considerably over the remaining 50 laps in an effort to conserve fuel.
Busch was next told the bad news with 34 laps remaining, he would be 7 or 8 laps short, but would need to pit before the end of the race, with a hope and a prayer Busch remained on the track for a caution that would never come, as he relinquish the lead to teammate Denny Hamlin, who was also short fuel.
Busch as well as the pole sitter Hamlin pitted within one lap of each other, and finished one lap down in seventh and eighth respectively.
“We knew everybody was kind of in the same boat there (at the end),” #2 crew chief Paul Wolfe said. “We pushed them as hard as we could.”
Before the race started Keselowski stated on his Twitter account ‘Spoiler alert- whoever wins the race today will be the new media favorite to win championship.’ When asked if he felt he was the new media favorite. Keselowski said, “By no means do I feel like we’re the favorite. Certainly we’re not the underdog probably at this point. But I think there’s so much racing to go, so many opportunities for things to go wrong or right for anyone out there, that it’s way too early to point those fingers and say those things.”
Keselowski also stated, “There’s a reason why it’s 10 rounds. We’re not even halfway. We’re three rounds in. My perspective is we got a lot more racing to go. Let’s just let the racing play out and go from there.”
The race finished with only six cars on the lead lap, runner-up Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin in 3rd, and Jimmie Johnson held on to 4th, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. were the remaining lead lap cars.
Keselowski regained the points lead by five points over Johnson; Hamlin is 16 points behind in third, with Clint Bowyer in fourth, 25 points behind the leader.
NASCAR Sprint Cup series travels to the Talladega Superspeedway for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500, where the Chase for the Sprint Cup continues, on Sunday, October 7th at 1 pm.