Keselowski good to the last drop in victory at Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin were licking their chops in the final laps of Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, waiting and hoping for Bred Keselowski to run his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge out of gas.
It never happened, with Keselowski hanging on to post his second career Sprint Cup victory in 66 starts.
"There are some secrets to (saving gas) and I just maximized them all,'' said Keselowski, who made his fuel last the final 57 laps. "I had plenty left.''
The 27-year-old Keselowski, who broke a 60-race winless streak, led the final nine laps of the 267-mile race after teammate Kurt Busch, the pole sitter who led 152 laps, had to pit late for fuel.
"We've been so close,'' said Keselowski, who drives for Penske Racing. "We've been plugging away. We had a car that I thought was capable of winning. I had a car last week (at Charlotte, N.C.) that sat on the pole and had a shot at it and just caught the wrong line on the restart. The same thing at Dover and Darlington, we could just never catch that good break.
"You can only put yourself in that position so many times before you're going to catch that right break. We caught a great break today because of all the hard work by the Miller Lite team that works on these Dodge Chargers. We got great gas mileage and that doesn't hurt either.''
Keselowski, now 21st in points, said that he didn't realize that he had the lead until late in the race.
"The 14 car (Tony Stewart, who finished eighth) pitted the same time that I did and (it) came out first and I thought for sure that I was going to run second. I was just hoping to hang on to second.
"Nobody really told me that we were leading. I don't know when I took the lead. The scoreboard is right in the middle of the race track and I looked over and saw my name on the top with two to go. I started shaking. I'm glad they didn't tell me.''
Earnhardt, who ran out of gas on the final lap at Charlotte in the previous race to cost him a victory, finished second while Hamlin was third.
"It was hot and slick and that is the way I like it,'' Earnhardt said. "(I was) just trying to get a little too much there and (spun out) and lost track position. We had a good car, though. It was fast all day.''
"We did a great job today,'' Hamlin said. "We're battling back. The pit crew is really stepping up these last few weeks and (we're) getting ourselves back in position.
Earnhardt climbed one spot to third in points while Hamlin moved up one spot to 11th. Four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who started the day 16th in points, finished fourth while Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.
Edwards increased his Sprint Cup points lead to 40 points over Jimmie Johnson, who was seventh. But Edwards is still looking for his first Cup win at Kansas, his home track.
"I really wanted to win and it is really hard to win here,'' Edwards said. "Today was a little bit extra difficult because the track was changing a lot.
"I had a good time, though. It is a fun race track and it is my new favorite race track.''
Sunday's race looked to be Kurt Busch's race to win until he was forced to pit late, resulting in a ninth-place finish.
"I'm proud of the way that this team has run,'' Busch said. "To have a car to lead laps today and be very competitive, I was all smiles. There was always something in the back of my mind today that we weren't going to win, but I'm glad that Brad Keselowski got this win for those Miller Lite guys, for Dodge. For all of my guys, we'll take this one and the points. I'm not discouraged at all.''
The sport moves to the Pocono Raceway next Sunday.