Brad Keselowski wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway the first race of the Challenger Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Keselowski will automatically move on to the next Round, the Contender Round, in the Chase because of this win.
Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag in the MyAFibStory.com 400. He led 46 laps and looked to be a factor in the race until green flag pit stops at lap 148 put him back to tenth.
“We were superfast early, superfast when the track was green and we were out front and we could run second or third and didn’t have a gaggle of cars around you.” Busch added, “But anytime I got in aero situations, man it just kills me. I don’t know what I have to do to get there. Each restart, the farther back you get there, it hurts you. He was not able to drive back to the front after that but was able to salvage a sixth place finish.”
Brad Keselowski started the race 25th due to the rain out of qualifying. They worked on the car during the two practices Saturday and got it better but when the race started it just took off. By lap 64 he made it up to tenth and during the caution on lap 66 they took two tires to get to fifth.
Another caution flag and round of pit stops on lap 98 and Brad Keselowski was in second. He was able to take the lead from there only to have potential disaster strike during another pit stop under caution for debris on lap 181.
The rear tire changer stood up and informed crew chief Paul Wolfe that he felt he didn’t get a lug nut tight leaving the potential for a loose wheel. Wolfe calmly called Keselowski back to pit road under caution opting not to risk disaster.
“We had the issue on pit road. Got us a little bit behind. But it was good that the issue we had, we came down and fixed it before we went back green. The changer felt like he didn’t get ‘em tight.” Wolfe added, “I think that was key, that he stood up and said, I feel like we’re going to have a loose wheel here. To come in and fix that under yellow was much less of a penalty than if we got going green and had a vibration. That was key there to being able to overcome that loose wheel. From there, we saw we had pretty good speed in our car all day.”
The No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was so fast that Keselowski was able to not only recover but drive back to the top five. There was another caution on lap 244. Keselowski restarted fourth behind Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon the other cars that were the class of the field. Keselowski was able to pass Gordon but wasn’t able to catch Larson and Harvick.
Larson and Harvick were battling side by side for several laps allowing Keselowski to drive up to them. Keselowski made the most impossible looking move by driving right between them to the lead. He then survived a late restart to win the race.
Keselowski said, “We were able to take advantage with that on the restarts, get up to third. I just saw a hole and I went for it. The 4 and the 42 were racing really hard, doing all the things they needed to do. It just opened a hole. I didn’t know if my car would stick or not, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t try it. I tried it, it did. That got us into the lead. Even that was going to be close. I think the 42 was quite a bit faster as the long run went. We got that yellow. Things evened out. We were able to take advantage from there.”
Brad Keselowski, Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team showed the type of effort that it will take to win a Championship. They let the whole garage know they mean business and that it is no gimmick. To keep their heads and stay on their game in spite of potential problems is what it takes.
Roger Penske explained how important the team effort was best. “Today, as Paul said, the real winner today is the young man that changes the rear tire, put his hand up and said, Hey, I screwed up, the wheel might be loose. Paul had the guts to say on the radio, We’re not going to go out and run to find out, we’re coming in now.”
Jeff Gordon was second followed by Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick. Kyle Larson was the highest finishing rookie.
Feature Photo Credit: 301568 Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR