It’s not often that you go to a back-up car, and run out of fuel in the same race weekend and you go on to win the race, but for Brad Keselowski that is exactly what he did.
The adversity that Keselowski had to battle at Kentucky Speedway started on Thursday during the first practice when he got loose and out of the groove and he hit the wall.
Because of the damage, Keselowski had to go to a back-up car.
“What a weekend,” Keselowski said to TNT reporters after the race. “Hit the wall on lap one of practice and had to bring out the back-up car. This is actually the car that I had at Martinsville in the Chase.”
Even when it came to the race, the adversity didn’t stop for Keselowski. Before the race his steering wheel was broken and his crew had to fix that before they even drove onto the track.
“I don’t know if I gripped the steering wheel too tight or what,” Keselowski told Speed’s Victory Lane program after the race. “If that would have happened going full speed into turn one, that wouldn’t have worked.”
Once they were on track and racing, the No. 2 Penske Dodge was fast, just not fast enough.
He was able to run down Kyle Busch to get the lead for the first time a few laps before the first pit stops, but after those pit stops Keselowski would have to hold on in the top-five for much of the race.
“We fought back through adversity,” Keselowski said. “That hard work, that’s why I’m here in victory lane.”
Even though he stayed in the top-five for most of the race, Keselowski was never able to catch back up to the lead, and as it turned out he wasn’t done battling struggles as the night went on.
Right before what was scheduled to be his final pit stop, Keselowski, who is known as a fuel saver, ran out of gas coming out of turn two. He would have to coast down the back stretch and to his pit stop.
As it turned out, though Keselowski running out of gas proved to be the best move for him, as while he was on pit road, Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet expired, bringing out the caution.
That caution gave Keselowski’s crew time to re-fuel the car and make a few adjustments that Keselowski needed to drive to victory.
“Got two or three key adjustments in it, and that’s what I needed to win this race,” Keselowski said after the race.
From that yellow, Keselowski was able to not only make the adjustments on his car, he was also able to take the lead for the second time in the race.
“We had the yellow flag as a benefit,” Keselowski said. “We were able to save fuel there for the end, and a little for a possible green-white-checkered too.”
With this win, it becomes the third time that Keselowski has won a race this year, leading all the drivers in the circuit.
Because of that he is now in prominent position to not only make the chase, but possibly leading the points, it also gives him insurance if he still needs to rely on a wild card spot.
“I love the wild card system,” Keselowski said. “It encourages drivers to go out and go for wins. In case something catastrophic happens we’re safe.”
For much of the night, it looked like it was going to be another Joe Gibbs Racing night. Kyle Busch started off strong leading most of the first half of the race, but after he bounced off the wall he broke a shock and shock mount. After that, it was Kyle’s teammate, Denny Hamlin who went on to lead much of the second half of the race.
Hamlin looked like he was going to finish second, but a hard charging Kasey Kahne blew past Hamlin with four laps to go. Kahne finished second and Hamlin finished third.
Two Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five with finishes of fourth and fifth respectively.
Matt Kenseth held on to his points lead. He now leads by eleven points over second place Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Quaker State 400 results:
- Brad Keselowski
- Kasey Kahne
- Denny Hamlin
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jeff Gordon
- Jimmie Johnson
- Matt Kenseth
- Martin Truex Jr.
- A.J. Allmendinger
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Paul Menard
- Marcos Ambrose
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Jamie McMurray
- Clint Bowyer
- Travis Kvapil
- Casey Mears
- Kurt Busch
- Carl Edwards
- Greg Biffle
- Joey Logano
- David Reutimann
- Jeff Burton
- Landon Cassill
- Aric Almirola
- Bobby Labonte
- David Gilliland
- David Ragan
- Michael Waltrip
- Ken Schrader
- Tony Stewart
- Regan Smith
- Ryan Newman
- Dave Blaney
- David Stremme
- Josh Wise
- Michael McDowell
- Scott Speed
- Joe Nemechek
- Stephen Leicht
- Mike Bliss
- Scott Riggs