Brad Keselowski Opens the Chase with a Win

Keselowski wins first race of the Chase at Chicagoland
Photo – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

By Jason Schultz

Beating Jimmie Johnson was a hard task the whole day but after the last pit stop, Keselowski figured out how to pass Johnson.

Johnson dominated the race for most of the day and Keselowski was the only driver who could keep up. Keselowski had a great final pit stop and made the race winning move by passing Johnson with about thirty laps to go. After Keselowski’s final pit stop he said his car “just took off.”

Johnson started out on the pole and was passed on lap one by Aric Almirola. Just four laps later, Johnson re-took the lead from Almirola.

The first round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 43.

The first caution of the day came out on lap 66 and it was for debris. Chase contender Tony Stewart had to make a second pit stop under the caution for a vibration he was feeling in his car. Stewart didn’t lose a lap and came back on the track before the restart.

The second yellow flag of the day came out on lap 101 for debris. The leaders hit pit road under the caution and Keselowski beat Johnson out of the pits to take the lead for the first time of the day.

The halfway mark approached quickly as Keselowski led, followed by Johnson, Kahne, Logano and Kyle Busch.

On lap 147 the second round of green flag pit stops began. In the middle of the cycle of green flag stops, the caution came out. The caution was for the No.13 of Casey Mears who hit the wall hard between turn one and two.

This caution left some drivers a lap down as they made their pit stop before the caution and it left the leaders, still on the track, in need of a pit stop. Keselowski and Johnson were among the leaders who pitted with Johnson beating Keselowski off the pit lane.

Trouble struck for Chase contender Jeff Gordon on lap 188 when he hit the turn one wall hard. Gordon was running fourth at the time. As a wild-card contender, Gordon just barely made his way into the Chase, knowing that if he has any issue, it will likely cost him a shot at the championship. To win the Chase, drivers need ten perfect races and can’t have an accident because a wreck will cost them a shot at the championship. Gordon commented on the radio following the accident, saying “Sorry guys (his team), that was a great run we were having.” Gordon was very disappointed because he knew this wreck would impact his shot at the championship, making it hard to recover.

Johnson made his final pit stop as the leader with 38 laps to go. Keselowski passed Johnson once the cars re-entered the track after their pit stops. Then Keselowski began to pull away from Johnson. Once the round of green flag stops cycled through, Keselowski became the new leader with 26 laps to go. Keselowski never looked back in the final laps and he took the Checker flag for the fourth time of the season.

Keselowski opened the Chase on a great note with a win but now he’ll need to stay consistent if he wants a shot at the championship. Keselowski said in victory lane that this is a “good start (but there’s a) long way to go.”

Johnson said after the race that “he (Keselowski) was just better.” Johnson ended up finishing second but after dominating most of the race he was disappointed.

Denny Hamlin ran out of fuel coming to the checkered flag and that cost him a lot of spots. Hamlin said running out of fuel has “put me (Hamlin) in a box.”

Most Chase drivers had a good day but only one driver could say he had a great day and that is Brad Keselowski.

Other notable finishes by Chase drives are Kasey Kahne in third, Tony Stewart in sixth, Earnhardt Jr in eighth, Truex Jr in ninth, Bowyer in tenth, Harvick in twelfth, Biffle thirteenth, Hamlin sixteenth, Kenseth eighteenth and Gordon in thirty-fifth.

After winning the race, Keselowski has moved into the points lead for the first time in his career. Johnson is now in second in points and Hamlin has fallen to fourth. Brad Keselowski proved today that he is a serious threat for the championship. The Chase has just begun but today proved that fans will witness a great Chase.

The next chapter of the Chase kicks off next Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Results and Point Standings via Nascar.com

FIN

ST

CAR

DRIVER

MAKE

SPONSOR

PTS/BNS

LAPS

STATUS

1 13 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 47/4 267 Running
2 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools 44/2 267 Running
3 6 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 41/0 267 Running
4 21 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley 40/0 267 Running
5 20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors 39/0 267 Running
6 29 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 39/1 267 Running
7 10 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 37/0 267 Running
8 4 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / 7-Eleven / National Guard 36/0 267 Running
9 18 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 35/0 267 Running
10 9 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 35/1 267 Running
11 16 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 0 267 Running
12 35 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 32/0 267 Running
13 22 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch Blue 31/0 267 Running
14 15 55 Mark Martin Toyota LG Partner of the Year / Aaron’s 30/0 267 Running
15 11 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Libman 29/0 267 Running
16 8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 29/1 267 Running
17 2 43 Aric Almirola Ford Farmland 28/1 267 Running
18 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 27/1 267 Running
19 5 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 25/0 267 Running
20 14 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 0 267 Running
21 12 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald’s 24/1 267 Running
22 37 34 David Ragan Ford Distraction.gov 23/1 267 Running
23 28 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 21/0 265 Running
24 32 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 20/0 265 Running
25 41 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 0 265 Running
26 23 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bubba Burgers 18/0 264 Running
27 17 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 17/0 263 Running
28 40 38 David Gilliland Ford 1-800LoanMart 16/0 263 Running
29 26 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 15/0 262 Running
30 39 32 T.J. Bell Ford U.S. Chrome 0 261 Running
31 38 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 13/0 259 Running
32 30 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 12/0 245 Running
33 42 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 11/0 199 Engine
34 7 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 10/0 197 Engine
35 19 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 9/0 190 Accident
36 27 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 8/0 146 Accident
37 36 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes
Autos.com
0 70 Fuel Pressure
38 43 26 Josh Wise * Ford MDS Transport 6/0 66 Vibration
39 31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 5/0 60 Transmission
40 33 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood &Pellet Stoves 0 52 Vibration
41 25 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 3/0 49 Susp.
42 34 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 0 41 Brakes
43 24 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 1/0 38 Rear Gear

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