Found September 30, 2012 on Fox Sports:
Gettyimage.ashx_url_http_3a_2f_2fcache.gettyimages.com_2fxc_2f101256040.jpg_3fv_3d1_26c_3dewsasset_26k_3d2_26d_3d77bfba49ef878921a343b2c87a49d8f590ec015d9c278db0a621db826758f58276ddad12616977f2
On Sunday the Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders weren't just racing for the win, they were running for the 2012 championship. And for Brad Keselowski, slow and steady won the race. No, Keselowski wasn't considered a favorite entering Dover International Speedway, but that didn't matter to him. His No. 2 Penske Racing team had the best strategy. While Keselowski's Dodge wasn't the class of the field, he just had to finish ahead of the Chase class -- and he did. Keselowski won the AAA 400 and regained the points lead with his fifth victory of the season. Keselowski stopped for fuel during the fourth caution with just over 85 circuits remaining in the race. The radio chatter during the final caution on Lap 318 delivered the grim reality. "Eight to 12 laps short on fuel," was the message relayed. Even winning crew chief Paul Wolfe warned Keselowski he was 10 laps light. Who would conserve? Who would be forced to pit? And who would gamble? With the title on the line, five-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus refused to take any chances. Although Jimmie Johnson had gained the lead out of the pits on Lap 312 and carried it for 43 laps, Knaus told his driver with less than 50 circuits remaining to either back down his performance to 80 percent and sacrifice the lead or risk making a green-flag stop. Johnson relinquished the lead on Lap 355 to Kyle Busch, who had led 267 circuits prior. But Busch and his teammate Denny Hamlin were in a similar position. However, neither driver conserved early enough in the run to make it to the finish. Busch sacrificed the lead to Hamlin when he pitted on Lap 390. Hamlin followed course on the next lap, giving Keselowski the lead -- with 10 laps remaining -- and eventually the win. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Johnson, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top six -- the only cars to finish on the lead lap. "That was no fun at all," Knaus told his driver. Johnson agreed. "It's a tough situation to be in but I'm more focused on the championship," said Johnson, who now trails Keselowski by five points. Hamlin, who finished eighth -- the first Chase driver off the lead lap -- was equally frustrated at the style of racing but encouraged by the speed of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Still, Hamlin witnessed his deficit grow from six to 16 points behind Keselowski. "You have to have the right strategy or you're (screwed)," he quipped, but the alternative -- running out of gas -- could have proved more costly. "It's so frustrating. All the hard work that you do -- it just doesn't pay off. Same thing as Richmond, we just didn't have the fuel mileage. We choose to (have) the horsepower over the fuel mileage and some guys don't turn that way. When you have a race-winning car, you don't want to give up any of the horsepower." Wolfe insists the team has never sacrificed "power for mileage" throughout the season and Dover was no exception. He just had to keep an eye on the competition around them in the closing laps. "It's not always the fastest car that wins," Wolfe said. "At this point of the season, it doesn't really matter how you get to Victory Lane, it's just getting there. That's why I'm proud of the effort today." Still, entering the final 10 races, Wolfe circled Dover on his calendar as the team's "weakest track in the Chase," which just pushed the group to work harder. When Keselowski yelled, "no weaknesses" after taking the checkered flag it was a rally cry of sorts. He credited the "team effort" -- pit crew, engineering and horsepower along with the right game plan -- for helping him persevere in the end. "I can't emphasize the word 'team' strongly enough because that's what this sport is," Keselowski said. "It's easy to get caught up in stat books and look at drivers and forget about teams." Keselowski might not have been the story entering the race, but he certainly was after. He remarked on Twitter: Hoping I brought the right attitude to win today. Judging by media, that's all it takes to win! One trait Keselowski has never been short of is attitude. While Keselowski wasn't the story entering the race, he certainly was afterward. Playing favorites NASCAR darlings Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick finished 11th and 28th, respectively. Earnhardt was two laps off the pace and remains seventh in the points standings. Patrick completed 393 of 400 laps in her seventh career Cup start. She described her performance as "normal." "I was a little bit slow to start," Patrick said. "The car was pretty tight to get going. That is a pattern for sure but it is better off that I start out a little tight and comfortable and we free it up rather than the other way around. We worked our way through it. The last run was decent. We made it better most every stop. That is a good starting place for next year when we get here and that is the point of these races." Numbers game 6: Cars on the lead lap. 4: Top-five finishes for Kevin Harvick, who is currently ninth in the poinst standings. 9: Career Cup victories for Brad Keselowski. 19: Starts for Mark Martin in 2012, who is currently 25th in the points standings. 22: Top-10 finishes for Jeff Gordon in 40 Dover starts. Say what? Kyle Busch led 302 of 400 laps but a late-race stop for fuel dropped him to a seventh-place finish -- the first car off the lead lap. Busch declined comment, but crew chief Dave Rogers explained the team's frustration. "Kyle did a phenomenal job, but our numbers just said we couldn't make it. All race we're scanning everybody and every time the 2 (Brad Keselowski) or the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) would say they had to pit -- it was five to six laps later than us. I knew they had better fuel mileage than us and I knew if it came down to a fuel-mileage race that we were going to be in trouble. We played our best cards and we came up short. There was no doubt that we had the fastest car today."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Brad Keselowski wins at Dover, takes points lead

Brad Keselowski captured his fifth win of the 2012 season by winning at Dover International Speedway. Keselwoski won two weeks ago at Chicagoland to open the Sprint Cup Series Chase. After the win Keselowski assumes a five point lead over Jimmie Johnson who finished fourth. Kyle Busch had the car to beat on the day but was forced to pit for gas late which gave Keselowski the lead...

Keselowski takes win, points lead at Dover

Brad Keselowski beat out the Dover master, Jimmie Johnson, on Sunday when the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Dover (Del.) International Speedway became a fuel mileage race. Keselowski, with a reputation of being a master when it comes to fuel-mileage racing, took the checkered flag to claim his fifth win of the season and his second Chase victory, three races into thisâ...

Is Brad Keselowski now the Chase favorite?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After winning Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway, Brad Keselowski might just be the favorite to...

Keselowski emerges in final laps

Brad Keselowski had just enough fuel left to take the checkered flag Sunday at Dover International Speedway for his second victory in three weeks. Keselowski won the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship opener at Chicagoland and followed that by conserving enough fuel down the stretch at Dover. Keselowski raced to his fifth victory of the season and zipped into the points lead...

NASCAR: Drivers on the move after Dover

Brad Keselowski is the real deal, despite Dodge’s impending departure from NASCAR. The man can get it done anywhere, and that makes him a bona fide championship favorite. He is leading the points, after all. At this point, it looks like there are three contenders for the title: Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. Clint [...]

Watch Brad Keselowski win at Dover

Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Dodge wasn’t the best car at Dover International Speedway, but he had the winning strategy. Kyle Busch dominated the race but had to pit late for fuel. Teammate Denny Hamlin also had to pit for fuel while running up front. Jimmie Johnson had a terrific car but was forced into fuel [...]

Victory Lap: NASCAR Week In Review, 10-01-2012

Brad Keselowski entered this season with tons of unrealized long-term potential in the Sprint Cup Series. Three races into this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, Keselowski is already beginning to realize that potential, having taken his second win of the playoffs at Dover to cap off the past week in NASCAR. The biggest news [...]

Keselowski Conquers the Monster Mile

The Chase is all about winning and you’ll need a few wins to win the championship and now Brad Keselowski has two wins, three races into the Chase. Keselowski didn’t lead a single lap until there were ten laps to go but Keselowski brought home the victory. Fuel Mileage cost several drivers a shot at victory including the dominant car of the day Kyle Busch. Busch had to pit with...

RotoWire NASCAR Barometer Talladega

Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway produced a winner that perhaps wasn't the fastest car on the afternoon. Fuel mileage became a factor after the final round of pit stops, and when a late caution never came, it was Brad Keselowski who capitalized on his position to claim the victory. Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin took their turns out front Sunday...

RotoWire NASCAR Barometer

Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway produced a winner that perhaps wasn't the fastest car on the afternoon. Fuel mileage became a factor after the final round of pit stops, and when a late caution never came, it was Brad Keselowski who capitalized on his position to claim the victory. Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin took their turns out front Sunday...

Sprint Cup Series driver standings after 29 of 36 races

Brad Keselowski won this weekend and now leads the point standings by 5 points over Jimmie Johnson, with Denny Hamlin (-16), Clint Bowyer (-25), and Tony Stewart (-32) making up the top five. Following those five are Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth as the Chase for the Sprint Cup motors on. ...
All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.