Brad Keselowski stretches fuel to take the win at Kentucky
Brad Keselowski won the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night, saving just enough fuel at the end to get his No. 2 Team Penske Ford to Victory Lane at the 1.5-mile track.
And actually, that’s not quite true. His car, completely out of gas after taking the checkered flag, had to be pushed to Victory Lane.
"I ran out coming off (Turn) 4. I got nothing in the tank," Keselowski told his team over the radio as the race ended.
"I didn’t think we were going to make it, honestly," Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s crew chief, added.
Carl Edwards finished second, coming from more than eight seconds behind over the final laps to pressure Keselowski for the lead on the final lap — but to no avail.
So Keselowski won his series-high fourth race of the season, and his second in a row. He also won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway one week earlier.
"I feel terrible that I couldn’t do a burnout for the fans. I didn’t have enough gas," Keselowski said.
Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick drove the cars that were the class of the field for most of the night.
But as the race wound down, with 20 laps to go, Keselowski was in the lead. Along with several others, Keselowski also was beginning to worry about running out of fuel before the race’s end.
Harvick came in to get fuel with 15 to go, giving up valuable track position.
Truex did a great job coming through the field after being penalized for illegally passing Harvick entering pit road on an earlier pit stop, but his run to the front stalled after he got to third behind Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. And then he came in to pit for two tires and fuel with 10 to go, giving up third.
Then with seven laps to go, Keselowski slowed and gave up the lead to Kenseth — who then quickly pitted for fuel, giving it back up.
That moved Edwards up to second in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He started saving fuel early, and soon was gaining on Keselowski — but could not quite catch him in the end.
For lots of other drivers and their teams, it was a crazy wreck-fest kind of night at Kentucky.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the first victim, and he wrecked on Lap 11 of the race scheduled for 267 laps.
Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was next, spinning out and hitting the outside wall in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on Lap 33.
Then it was Joey Logano’s turn. He exited the race for good after having a right-front tire go down and hitting the wall hard on Lap 53.
Logano blamed himself for his wreck, saying he had tapped the wall 10 laps earlier and gotten his car really loose — but never slowed down enough in the ensuing laps to compensate for it.
"When you get loose you have to slow down more and you use a lot of brake to slow down," Logano said. "Usually, the next thing to go is the right-front tire and that happened. Unfortunately, I put us in a bad spot here."
The hits kept right on coming.
Next to contribute to the carnage were rookies Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, drivers of the two outside cars on a three-wide mashup with Greg Biffle on the inside.
But while Biffle scooted by, he took air off the side of Blaney’s car in the middle and Blaney went around in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, collecting the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Elliot in the process.
"It’s just an unfortunate spot we got put in and I hate to see two really good cars tore up," Blaney said.
Keselowski made it through all the wrecks and then survived the fuel-mileage scare at the end, leading a total of 75 laps in all.
Rounding out the top five behind Keselowski and Edwards were Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart.
Harvick, who led a race-high 128 laps, finished ninth. Truex, who led 46, finished 10th.