Brad Keselowski wins the NASCAR GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway when he and his team have a great final pit stop and come back onto the track ahead of a dominating Jimmie Johnson.
Jimmie Johnson started the race from the pole and proceeded to dominate the race. He led 172 of the 267 laps. With the exception of Brad Keselowski taking the lead at lap 100 by making a two-tire pit stop, there was no indication that Jimmie wouldn’t lead the whole race and win. Who would have thought that this was a foreshadowing of what was to come?
Jimmie said about Brad, “The last maybe three runs he was definitely a factor and I was maybe a little better than him on the third-to-last and then on the next-to-last we were about equal, but on that last one, he was just better. So congratulations to those guys, they did an awesome job but this is a great way to start the Chase for us.”
The race went green from lap 187 until the finish. When Brad Keselowski made his last green-flag pit stop on lap 236, Brad and his team executed flawlessly and Brad entered the track in front of Jimmie. When green-flag pit stops were over, Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team inherited the lead and never looked back.
Paul Wolfe, crew chief of the Miller Lite Dodge, said about the final pit stop, “I was surprised myself. I thought with the lead they (48) had they would at least be able to keep that. But like I say, the pit crew did a great job. It’s important they stepped out when it counted, and Brad has been one of the best guys on and off pit road here through the summer months.”
Even though they are currently leading the standings Brad said, “… it feels like Round 1 of a heavyweight title bout, just it’s a 10-round bout. Week 1 is done and we won the round but we didn’t by any means knock them out, we’ve got a lot of racing left to go. We’re feeling good about today but know that we have a lot of work to do.”
This is Brad’s eighth victory in 116 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It is his fourth victory this year. Jimmie Johnson was second, Kasey Kahne third, Kyle Busch fourth, and Ryan Newman fifth.
Some Chase contenders had trouble. Matt Kenseth lost a right front shock absorber. He pitted multiple times and fixed it during a caution flag and finished 18th, one lap down. The caution flag was on lap 187 for Jeff Gordon, who had a stuck throttle and hit the wall in turn 1. Jeff finished 35th, 77 laps down. Denny Hamlin ran out of fuel on the last lap, giving up a potential 9th-place finish and settling for 16th, the last car on the lead lap.
Brad Keselowski leads the Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings by 3 points over Jimmie Johnson. It is the first time he has led the standings in his career. He sure picked a good time to achieve that statistic. The rest of the standings: Tony Stewart -8, Denny Hamlin -15, Kasey Kahne -15, Clint Bowyer -15, Dale Earnhardt Jr. -17, Greg Biffle -19, Martin Truex Jr. -21, Kevin Harvick -24, Matt Kenseth -26 and Jeff Gordon -47.
Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary