Brad Keselowski, driving the #2 Miller-Lite Ford Fusion, wins the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway for the 14th Annual MyAFibStory.com 400. Keselowski led 62 of the scheduled 267 laps to take the checkers, with a 1.759 seconds margin of victory, after having started the race in 25th place.
Keselowski pulled away from Kyle Larson, driving the #42 Target Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driving the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, on the final restart with six laps to go Sunday, ultimately securing for himself, the first spot able to advance into the second round of NASCAR’s new playoff format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Keselowski has 5 victories for the 2014 season, and has 15 wins in 188 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Keselowski has two wins in six races at Chicagoland.
“What a crazy day, I’m not really sure what all happened,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “Obviously it finished up well for us, and we caught a little of a break when that yellow came out in the middle of the pit cycle. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m glad to be here.”
“I saw Kyle (Larson) and Kevin (Harvick) racing each other really hard and they were aggressive at side-drafting and I was just waiting for an opportunity to strike and it came,” said Keselowski. “The car stuck and everything just came together.”
With 15 laps remaining, Keselowski in third was watching Harvick and Larson race for the lead, when the #2 Miller-Lite Ford of Keselowski split the cars and went straight up the middle to take the lead and drove away, leaving Harvick and Larson to battle for second and third.
Keselowski was fast early in the running but fell behind when he had to pit twice under caution on Lap 182 for a loose wheel. The #2 Miller-Lite Ford fell to 16th on the track but worked his way up to fourth on a restart will 30 laps remaining.
Gordon was second, Larson finished third, Joey Logano finished fourth, and Harvick finished in fifth. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 10, with eight drivers being in the 2014 Chase.
Of the 16 drivers who qualified for the Chase who didn’t finish in the top 10, Aric Almirola finished 41st after a blown engine took him out of contention for today’s race with 37 laps to go. Almirola, had been running sixth at the time, went into the Chase as an underdog.
It was the first blown engine for Almirola since he joined Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I’ve never been so heartbroken, ever,” said Almirola. “We got a tall feat to get over now. This has certainly put us in a huge hole going to Loudon and Dover.”
Greg Biffle finished 23rd, AJ Allmendinger finished 22nd, both drivers finished 2 laps down. Carl Edwards finished one lap down in 20th. Ryan Newman finished 15th, Kasey Kahne finished 13th, Jimmie Johnson finished 12th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th for today’s race.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN. Qualifying for the Sylvania 300 will be held on Friday, Sept. 19, on Fox Sports 1 with coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.