Monday, March 10, 2014

Brad Keselowski Wins the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Brad Keselowski won the Kobalt 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday after Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel on the final lap.
Photo courtesy NASCAR via Getty Images

Keselowski started in second, and ran up front all day.  He had to chase down Earnhardt after the final restart, and Keselowski made the winning pass after Earnhardt’s car sputtered coming out of Turn 2.

Keselowski’s crew chief made a good call during the final caution to get him up front, and he was able to push Earnhardt to drive faster than he wanted to.

“Heck of a call to get us out front,” Keselowski said.  “At the end, this car was really fast; really proud of it.”

Earnhardt has now started the season with a win and two second-place finishes.  Earnhardt said he was disappointed with the end result, but that he knew he might come up short.

“We tried to save as much as we could and make it work,” Earnhardt said.  “It’s no shock to us to run out.  We knew we were a lap short; got it as close as we could.  Made a gamble, but it didn’t work out in our favor but we still finished second.  Got to look at the positives today.”

Keselowski’s Penske teammate Joey Logano started on the pole for the race, and he jumped out to the early lead.  Josh Wise blew an engine on lap 17, which brought out the first caution of the day.  Under the caution, the leaders came down pit road, but Keselowski stayed out to take the lead.

When the race restarted, Logano once again jumped ahead of his teammate for the lead.  He led until the caution came back out for debris on lap 44, and some drivers used pit strategy to gain track position.

When the race restarted, Logano had fallen to 12th, and Jimmie Johnson led the field.  But Kyle Busch quickly worked his way through the field, and took the lead on lap 76.

Busch led through a round of green flag pit stops, but Kevin Harvick worked his way to the front to take the lead on lap 129.  Harvick maintained the lead through another round of green-flag pit stops before the third caution came out for debris on lap 155.

Busch led the field off pit road during the caution, but Keselowski stayed out again to take the lead.  Keselowski led the field to the restart on lap 160.

Photo courtesy NASCAR via Getty Images
Harvick was running up front when his car slowed, and he had to take his car to the garage.  He said there was a problem with the right-front, but that he would remain positive.

“It looks like the right-front hub is locked shut,” Harvick told FOX Sports.  “It’s hard to complain.  Little parts failure there.  We’ll figure out the cause of it.”

Keselowski led until the final caution came out on lap 220, once again for debris.  During the caution, Earnhardt inherited the lead by staying out while the rest of the leaders pitted.

Earnhardt led the field back to the green flag on lap 225, and he tried to save as much fuel as possible.  But his car slowed coming out of Turn 2 on the final lap, and that allowed Keselowski to take the lead and the checkered flag.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Paul Menard
4. Joey Logano
5. Carl Edwards
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Kyle Busch
12. Denny Hamlin
13. Brian Vickers
14. Martin Truex Jr.
15. Jamie McMurray
16. Austin Dillon
17. Jeff Burton
18. AJ Allmendinger
19. Kyle Larson
20. Trevor Bayne
21. Danica Patrick
22. Greg Biffle
23. Clint Bowyer
24. Marcos Ambrose
25. Aric Almirola
26. Kurt Busch
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
28. Casey Mears
29. Michael Annett
30. David Gilliland
31. Justin Allgaier
32. David Ragan
33. Tony Stewart
34. Reed Sorenson
35. Ryan Truex
36. Cole Whitt
37. Alex Bowman
38. Timmy Hill
39. Travis Kvapil
40. Parker Kligerman
41. Kevin Harvick
42. Josh Wise
43. Michael McDowell

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to “Thunder Valley.”  The Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway can be seen next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. on FOX.

Photo courtesy NASCAR via Getty Images

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