Beating Jimmie Johnson was a hard task the whole day but after the last pit stop, Keselowski figured out how to pass Johnson.
Johnson dominated the race for most of the day and Keselowski was the only driver who could keep up. Keselowski had a great final pit stop and made the race winning move by passing Johnson with about thirty laps to go. After Keselowski’s final pit stop he said his car “just took off.”
Johnson started out on the pole and was passed on lap one by Aric Almirola. Just four laps later, Johnson re-took the lead from Almirola.
The first round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 43.
The first caution of the day came out on lap 66 and it was for debris. Chase contender Tony Stewart had to make a second pit stop under the caution for a vibration he was feeling in his car. Stewart didn’t lose a lap and came back on the track before the restart.
The second yellow flag of the day came out on lap 101 for debris. The leaders hit pit road under the caution and Keselowski beat Johnson out of the pits to take the lead for the first time of the day.
The halfway mark approached quickly as Keselowski led, followed by Johnson, Kahne, Logano and Kyle Busch.
On lap 147 the second round of green flag pit stops began. In the middle of the cycle of green flag stops, the caution came out. The caution was for the No.13 of Casey Mears who hit the wall hard between turn one and two.
This caution left some drivers a lap down as they made their pit stop before the caution and it left the leaders, still on the track, in need of a pit stop. Keselowski and Johnson were among the leaders who pitted with Johnson beating Keselowski off the pit lane.
Trouble struck for Chase contender Jeff Gordon on lap 188 when he hit the turn one wall hard. Gordon was running fourth at the time. As a wild-card contender, Gordon just barely made his way into the Chase, knowing that if he has any issue, it will likely cost him a shot at the championship. To win the Chase, drivers need ten perfect races and can’t have an accident because a wreck will cost them a shot at the championship. Gordon commented on the radio following the accident, saying “Sorry guys (his team), that was a great run we were having.” Gordon was very disappointed because he knew this wreck would impact his shot at the championship, making it hard to recover.
Johnson made his final pit stop as the leader with 38 laps to go. Keselowski passed Johnson once the cars re-entered the track after their pit stops. Then Keselowski began to pull away from Johnson. Once the round of green flag stops cycled through, Keselowski became the new leader with 26 laps to go. Keselowski never looked back in the final laps and he took the Checker flag for the fourth time of the season.
Keselowski opened the Chase on a great note with a win but now he’ll need to stay consistent if he wants a shot at the championship. Keselowski said in victory lane that this is a “good start (but there’s a) long way to go.”
Johnson said after the race that “he (Keselowski) was just better.” Johnson ended up finishing second but after dominating most of the race he was disappointed.
Denny Hamlin ran out of fuel coming to the checkered flag and that cost him a lot of spots. Hamlin said running out of fuel has “put me (Hamlin) in a box.”
Most Chase drivers had a good day but only one driver could say he had a great day and that is Brad Keselowski.
Other notable finishes by Chase drives are Kasey Kahne in third, Tony Stewart in sixth, Earnhardt Jr in eighth, Truex Jr in ninth, Bowyer in tenth, Harvick in twelfth, Biffle thirteenth, Hamlin sixteenth, Kenseth eighteenth and Gordon in thirty-fifth.
After winning the race, Keselowski has moved into the points lead for the first time in his career. Johnson is now in second in points and Hamlin has fallen to fourth. Brad Keselowski proved today that he is a serious threat for the championship. The Chase has just begun but today proved that fans will witness a great Chase.
The next chapter of the Chase kicks off next Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Results and Point Standings via Nascar.com
|1||13||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||47/4||267||Running|
|2||1||48||Jimmie Johnson||Chevrolet||Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools||44/2||267||Running|
|3||6||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||41/0||267||Running|
|5||20||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors||39/0||267||Running|
|6||29||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Office Depot / Mobil 1||39/1||267||Running|
|7||10||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||Dollar General||37/0||267||Running|
|8||4||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||AMP Energy / 7-Eleven / National Guard||36/0||267||Running|
|9||18||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||35/0||267||Running|
|10||9||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||35/1||267||Running|
|11||16||22||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil||0||267||Running|
|12||35||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Budweiser Designate a Driver||32/0||267||Running|
|13||22||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||Scotch Blue||31/0||267||Running|
|14||15||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||LG Partner of the Year / Aaron’s||30/0||267||Running|
|15||11||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Menards / Libman||29/0||267||Running|
|16||8||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Ground||29/1||267||Running|
|18||3||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||27/1||267||Running|
|20||14||21||Trevor Bayne||Ford||Good Sam Club / Camping World||0||267||Running|
|26||23||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Bubba Burgers||18/0||264||Running|
|29||26||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King||15/0||262||Running|
|30||39||32||T.J. Bell||Ford||U.S. Chrome||0||261||Running|
|31||38||93||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||13/0||259||Running|
|32||30||51||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction||12/0||245||Running|
|33||42||36||Dave Blaney||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||11/0||199||Engine|
|34||7||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / Farm American||10/0||197||Engine|
|37||36||33||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||Little Joes
|38||43||26||Josh Wise *||Ford||MDS Transport||6/0||66||Vibration|
|39||31||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Inception Motorsports||5/0||60||Transmission|
|40||33||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||AM / FM Energy Wood &Pellet Stoves||0||52||Vibration|
|41||25||195||Scott Speed||Ford||Jordan Truck Sales||3/0||49||Susp.|
|42||34||119||Mike Bliss||Toyota||Plinker Tactical||0||41||Brakes|
|43||24||98||Michael McDowell||Ford||Phil Parsons Racing||1/0||38||Rear Gear|