Brad Keselowski, squeezing every ounce of fuel he could out of his No. 2 Ford, won the Quaker State 400 on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.
In winning for a second consecutive week and for the fourth time this season, Keselowski nearly ran out of gas with fewer than two laps remaining. Told to “flip his switches,” by his team, Keselowski managed to hold off second-place Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch to win on Kentucky’s newly repaved surface. Two of Keselowski’s closest rivals in the race – Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth – had to stop for gas late in the race.
Edwards got close to Keselowski on the final lap, but Keselowski sped away.
“It became obvious we were going to have to save gas at the end,” said Keselowski, who became the first driver to officially clinch a spot in the Chase. “I had to get back what I used earlier.”
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Truex might have had the strongest car in the field, but had to go the rear of the field after a pit road penalty on Lap 196. Truex worked his way back to third before stopping for gas and finishing 10th.
It was Keselowski’s third career victory in Kentucky’s six Cup races.
As drivers tried to figure out the new surface, the race had a Kentucky-record 11 cautions.
When Truex was penalized for passing Kevin Harvick on pit road on Lap 196, Keselowski took the lead when Harvick bobbled on the restart.
Three who mattered
Brad Keselowski: He milked everything out of his fuel cylinder that he could to win his fourth race of the season.
Carl Edwards: Thought he was going to steal a victory until Keselowski sped away from him on the final lap.
Martin Truex Jr.: Picked off 19 cars 32 laps after he was penalized on pit road. Made it to third before stopping for fuel with 10 laps remaining.
▪ Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle both had their best races of the season. Newman’s third-place finish was his first top-five of the season. Biffle’s sixth-place was his second consecutive top 10 after he was eighth last week at Daytona.
▪ Jimmie Johnson never quite figured out Kentucky’s repaved track. He crashed during practice Friday, then, in a backup car, spun and hit the Turn 4 wall during Saturday’s race. Johnson, who finished, 32nd, still hasn’t won at Kentucky (one of the five tracks where he is winless).
▪ Tony Stewart, running a final time at Kentucky, was presented with a Kentucky Wildcats jersey before the race from two players from their 1978 national championship team, Jack Givens and Kyle Macy, and coach Joe B. Hall.
▪ A fire broke out in a pickup truck in a parking lot outside the track about an hour into the race. Thick black smoke from the fire -- it also spread to a car parked next to the truck -- wafted over the track for several minutes. Fire crews put the flames out after several minutes.
They said it
“I thought (Keselowski) was out of fuel and he wasn’t. He played it perfectly.” – Edwards.
Three tweets from Saturday’s race:
New Hampshire 301
Where: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Network.
Radio: Performance Racing Network.