KANSAS CITY, KS (Sports Network) – Brad Keselowski had been looking for a break in a Sprint Cup Series race for a long time. He finally got one on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Keselowski prevailed in a fuel battle in the closing laps of the STP 400, holding off Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was denied a win for the second race in a row.
The 27-year-old Keselowski took the lead for the first time with nine laps remaining when his Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, the pole sitter, was forced to pit and relinquish the top position.
Keselowski then coasted his No.2 Dodge as much as he could during the final nine laps around the 1.5-mile racetrack. Earnhardt Jr., who also took a gamble on gas, was quickly chasing down Keselowski, but fell short of ending his lengthy winless streak in NASCAR’s top series.
“We caught a great break today,” Keselowski said. “It’s all because of the hard work from everybody on this team. I also got great gas mileage, which doesn’t hurt either.”
Keselowski claimed his second career Sprint Cup win. He also gave Paul Wolfe his first victory as a crew chief in the series.
“Being my first win, I’m really excited about all the effort that’s been put in so far,” Wolfe said. “To be able to get the [car] to victory lane was pretty special today.”
His first win came in April 2009 at Talladega — 75 races ago. He drove for car owner James Finch (Phoenix Racing) at the time.
Earnhardt Jr. finished in the runner-up spot for the second straight week. He bounced back nicely after spinning around between turns three and four just past the halfway point. He did not hit anything.
Last week at Charlotte, Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel on the last turn of the final lap, allowing Kevin Harvick to pass him and take the win there. Earnhardt Jr.’s winless drought has now stretched to 106 races.
“We had a good car,” said Earnhardt Jr., who started 28th. “We just didn’t have a second-place car, not at all, but we had a top-10 car.”
Denny Hamlin, who finished third, did not pit during the closing laps of the 400-mile race as well.
Jeff Gordon took the fourth spot, while Carl Edwards, the current points leader, placed fifth.
Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart finished sixth through eighth, respectively.
Busch, who dominated most of this race by leading 152 laps, wound up in ninth.
“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. I felt coming into the weekend that if we could pace ourselves and have good team communication, we would be competitive. It was great.”
Greg Biffle, who won the most recent Sprint Cup race at Kansas last October, completed the top-10.
Edwards now holds a 40-point advantage over Johnson. Earnhardt Jr. trails Johnson by only one point.
Kyle Busch finished 12th one day after his physical altercation with team owner Richard Childress in the garage area at Kansas. The incident occurred shortly after the 200-mile Camping World Truck Series race.
Hours before the Sprint Cup race here, NASCAR met with Busch and Childress to discuss the altercation.
NASCAR allowed Childress to remain for the race, but restricted him from certain areas at the track. The sanctioning body will likely assess penalties to Childress on Monday. NASCAR determined that Busch’s involvement in the incident did not violate his current probation, and no further action would be required.