NASCAR: Keselowski grabs Vegas win from Earnhardt on last lap

NASCAR: Keselowski grabs Vegas win from Earnhardt on last lap

Latest Stories

NASCAR: Keselowski grabs Vegas win from Earnhardt on last lap

Brad Keselowski earned his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the 2014 season after Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel on the final lap at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt gambled by opting not to pit his Hendrick Chevrolet during the final caution period, staying out with 45 laps to go to take the lead.

Keselowski, who had led when the yellow flags were brought out for debris and headed the train of cars into the pits in his Penske Ford, emerged outside the top six but flew into second almost immediately after the restart. He briefly lost out to Carl Edwards but regained the place shortly afterwards and then set about eating into Earnhardt’s 2.8-second lead.

With just over 10 laps to go the 2012 champion was on the tail of the Daytona 500 winner and piled on the pressure. Earnhardt led onto the final lap but, after been urged to forget about saving fuel by his crew chief, moved aside on the back straight as his Chevrolet began to splutter, allowing Keselowski through to win.

“It’s such a (relief) for myself and everyone on the team to get that win in early and being able to enjoy the racing opportunities that we have, rather than being stressed out about it,” Keselowski said. “The chance that Dale and Stevie [Letarte] took with the 88 car was way out there.

“It was a good, risky move on their part, because they had nothing to lose because of this (new Chase) format. I think that shows some of the opportunities that come (from having) stress-free days, and I’m looking forward to being able to take those same opportunities, because I’m not scared to take ‘em, and I know (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) is not, so look out.”

For his part, Earnhardt felt he had done all he could.

“I ran two real hard laps right after that restart (on lap 226), and we got about a 20-car-length lead, and I started lifting real early into both corners and seeing whether they were going to catch me,” Earnhardt said. “So I was being pretty cautious and lifting pretty early, and when I saw Brad pass the 99 (Edwards), I knew Brad in clean air would be quicker than us, potentially – he had been all day – and I just continued to save fuel and hope that once he got behind me and got into dirty air I could keep him there. 

“I continued to save until he got within about eight car lengths, and then I started running hard, and we were fast enough to keep him behind us. As soon as I got to the top of Turns 1 and 2 the last several laps, I was real comfortable that he wasn’t going to get to me, felt fine about, if we had enough gas, we weren’t going to have a problem, but we didn’t have enough gas.”

He managed to hold onto second just ahead of Paul Menard, who started 21st but staged a late charge to come through from the fringes of the top 10.

Poleman Joey Logano led the first 44 laps but then spent the majority of the race outside the top 10 as he struggled with his Ford’s handling in traffic. He vaulted up the order during the final two pitstops to salvage fourth. Carl Edwards and reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson completed the top six.

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick were a large part of the lead battle for most of the race. Busch tumbled down the field after the final stop, eventually finishing 11th despite leading the joint-most laps of anyone (52), while Harvick retired with brake issues having led until around two-thirds distance.

Results - 267 laps:Pos  Driver              Team/Car
 1.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford
 2.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet
 3.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet
 4.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford
 5.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford
 6.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet
 7.  Ryan Newman         Childress Chevrolet
 8.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet
 9.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet
10.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota
11.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota
12.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota
13.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota
14.  Martin Truex Jr     Furniture Row Chevrolet
15.  Jamie McMurray      Ganassi Chevrolet
16.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet
17.  Jeff Burton         Waltrip Toyota
18.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Chevrolet
19.  Kyle Larson         Ganassi Chevrolet
20.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford
21.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
22.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford
23.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota
24.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford
25.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford
26.  Kurt Busch          Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
27.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford
28.  Casey Mears         Germain Chevrolet
29.  Michael Annett      Baldwin Chevrolet
30.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford
31.  Justin Allgaier     Hscott Chevrolet
32.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford
33.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
34.  Reed Sorenson       Baldwin Chevrolet
35.  Ryan Truex          BK Toyota
36.  Cole Whitt          Swan Toyota
37.  Alex Bowman         Swan Toyota
38.  Timmy Hill          FAS Lane Ford
39.  Travis Kvapil       Go FAS Ford
40.  Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota

Retirements:

     Kevin Harvick       Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
     Josh Wise           Parsons Chevrolet
     Michael McDowell    Leavine Ford

Originally on Autosport.com

More RACER
Home