Winner Brad Keselowski snaps pics in Victory Lane - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
The driver of Penske Racing's Blue Deuce, the No. 2 Dodge Charger R/T, earned his second straight win in Thunder Valley, the 0.553 bowl of an oval over the No. 17 Ford Fusion Matt Kenseth, leading 232 of the 500 laps in the process.
"This car here, a brand new car that Penske Racing built, everybody back in the shop did a phenomenal job," Keselowski said. "The last few races have been really good and I knew we had a shot at winning one if we ran like we were today. We closed the deal and you know, Matt didn't make it easy."
Keselowski called his first win of the season in the fourth contest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup campaign a "special victory for sure. The fall race was a great win, but the Blue Deuce was fast enough to win the race last fall with or without timing lines. It feels so good to just prove it here today in the spring race," he said. There were accusations that Keselowski won the night race at Bristol due to his ability to work the timing line at pit out.
Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers finished third through fifth in their Toyota Camry race cars, with Jeff Burton, teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard bringing their Chevrolet racers into the top 10.
Only Edwards wouldn't make it to the end of the contest. The balance of those involved had truly ugly cars but at least they continued in the race.
The second caution came on lap 116 for Ken Schrader's wall-slap between the third and fourth turns and lasted only six laps. David Stremme hit the wall on the 340th lap and that, too, lasted six laps. Teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr touched one another and Gordon cut a left rear tire on lap 359. The four-time champ had words for Junior, who immediately apologized to him. Obviously not enough.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart backed the rear of his Chevrolet into the wall with 22 laps to go. Do you stop for fuel and tires or keep track position? The top five stayed out of the pits and sealed their fate, with Keselowski taking the win by 7/10ths of a second over Kenseth.
With this victory, Keselowski moved within spitting distance of the Chase for the Sprint Cup-bound top 12 drivers; he's 13th. Despite his 13th place result today, Greg Biffle leads the points, with Harvick second, Kenseth third, Truex Jr fourth and Denny Hamlin (20th today) fifth. Earnhardt Jr finished 15th and retains sixth place points, followed by Stewart (14th), Bowyer, Joey Logano (16th) and Paul Menard. Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman are 11th and 12th, respectively.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup haulers are heading west now for California Speedway, making their second trek to Pacific time in two weeks! And on Tuesday, the final appeal for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsport's penalties, fines and suspensions will be heard. The results will determine crew chief Chad Knaus' and car chief Ron Malec's six-week agenda. Johnson has moved from outside the top 35 to 17th in points (tied with Montoya) since the Daytona 500 debacle.