Keselowski Stretches Fuel for Second Consecutive Win at Kentucky

There’s a new NASCAR sheriff in town, and his name is Brad Keselowski. After saving just enough fuel to cross the finish line in first place to earn his second consecutive win, fourth of the season, and his third at Kentucky Speedway in the Quaker State 400, it’s safe to say that the driver of the No. 2 car and 2012 Sprint Cup champion is the hottest driver in the sport.

Last week, Keselowski won on pure speed. This week, his fuel conservation put him in victory lane, something that he has done many times before. With two laps remaining, he radioed to his crew that he was out of fuel. However, coming off turn four, the car sputtered back to life and had just enough to keep him in front of eventual second-place finisher, Carl Edwards, to take the checkered flag. Keselowski literally ran the tank of fuel dry. Needing  a push from a safety vehicle just to get to victory lane.

“I didn’t think I was going to win the race,” Keselowski told NBCSN in his victory lane interview post-race. “We knew the fuel mileage. We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and were just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were going to have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much.

With the win, Keselowski becomes the first driver to officially mathematically clinch a playoff berth.

 Edwards ended up finishing on the rear bumper of the No. 2 car. If it wasn’t for Keselowski stretching his fuel beyond belief, a whopping 71 laps, the No. 19 would’ve been victorious.

“Yeah, I thought he was out of fuel coming off of [turn] four, but [Keselowski] actually did it very well,” Edwards told NBCSN. “If he didn’t beat me, I’d be more impressed. I guess I’m impressed that he did beat me, but I don’t want to be.”

The two cars that dominated the race were polesitter Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. Truex Jr has dominated races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, but was unable to….

Harvick led a race high 128 laps, but ended up finishing ninth after he was forced to put with around 15 laps to go, along with 95 percent of the field, for a splash of fuel to make it to the end of the race. The No. 78 was penalized with under 60 laps to go for passing on pit road, but rebounded for a 10th place finish.

“It wasn’t my night on that deal,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s frustrating, we had the car to beat. We came out with the lead and they took it away from us. It’s just the way it goes, I guess.”

Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, and Matt Kenseth made up positions three through eight as they played the fuel strategy game and it worked out in their favor. Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top fifteen.

But where are some of the other big names?

Joey Logano (39th), AJ Allmendinger (36th), Ryan Blaney (35th), Jimmie Johnson (32nd), and Chase Elliott (31st) were all involved in accidents throughout the race. The uneven banking, from 17 degrees in turns one and two to 14 degrees in three and four, coupled with the repave, proved treacherous for drivers and teams alike on Sunday. Cole Whitt (21st) and Josh Wise (24th) had some quiet yet solid evenings for small budget teams.

Next weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to New England and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 301 for the first race at NHMS of the season. Last season, Kyle Busch won the July race with, you guessed it, Brad Keselowski finishing second.