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Keselowski holds off Busch brothers to win at Pocono

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, August 7, 2011


Brad Keselowski leads Kyle Busch as they raced to the finish
Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski’s challenge to the rest of the Sprint Cup field: “I can beat you with a broken leg.”

And he did.

Staying out on the track on old tires under a caution with 21 laps left in Sunday’s rain-interrupted Good Sam RV 500 at Pocono Raceway, Keselowski pulled away from Kyle Busch after a restart on Lap 185 of 200 to secure his second victory of the season—despite driving with a broken left ankle.

Keselowski, who was injured in a hard crash during testing Wednesday at Road Atlanta, kept Busch at bay over the final 10 laps. With Sunday’s victory—the third of his career—Keselowski’s fortunes took a dramatic turn with respect to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Having cracked the top 20, Keselowski is in position to claim the first wild-card spot, being the only driver in positions 11-20 with more than one victory. Keselowski leaves Pocono 18th in the standings, having gained three positions Sunday.

Kyle Busch came home second, followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman. Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Paul Menard completed the top 10.

Keselowski downplayed his gutsy effort.

“I no hero,” Keselowski said. “The heroes are the guys that died in Afghanistan this weekend. I want to spend time thinking about them. They’re my inspiration for this weekend, the things that those guys do.

“I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes. I just drive racecars for a living.”

Kurt Busch, Keselowski’s teammate at Penske Racing, gave the driver of the No. 2 Dodge a little more credit than that.

“It’s amazing what the body can do,” Busch said. “For him to go through that wreck this week and get back on his horse right away and find success, that’s only going to make Brad Keselowski a better racer.”

Just past the halfway point of the race, rain began to fall, lightly at first and then in torrents. After the cars crossed the stripe on pit road to complete Lap 124, NASCAR stopped the race with polesitter Joey Logano in the lead, hoping the deluge would continue.

That didn’t happen. The rain abated, and the race resumed after a stoppage of 1 hour, 40 minutes, 46 seconds, dashing Logano’s hopes of claiming a second career victory the same way he got his first one (New Hampshire in June 2009)—with an assist from the elements.

Keselowski and Kurt Busch got to the front of the field with a contrarian strategy that brought them to the pits for fuel and tires right before the stoppage. When the cars ahead of them came to the pits under caution after the resumption, Keselowski and Busch were elevated to positions 1 and 2, respectively, for the restart on Lap 132. That turned the race around.

“Everybody’s getting more aggressive with their calls,” said Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s crew chief. “My engineers seemed pretty confident that we were going to go back green. We know it’s going to take calls like that to get us in the Chase. I knew it was going to take a call like today to get another win to get us closer to that opportunity.”

“Just tell ’em, Paul, you’ve got balls this big,” Keselowski chimed in.

Before the lengthy red-flag period, Joe Gibbs Racing cars had dominated the race. Logano had set the pace for 39 laps. Denny Hamlin, a wizard at Pocono from the day he set eyes on the track as a rookie in 2006, had led a race-high 65 laps to that point, and Kyle Busch chipped in with six laps led for a team total of 110 of the first 124.

Immediately before the rain delay, Logano had withstood the persistent efforts of Johnson to pass him for the lead. But for the vagaries of nature, that could have been a battle for the win, and both drivers raced as if it were.

“We knew the rain was coming, and I was trying to hold off the 48 (Johnson),” Logano said. “I saw him coming—and coming pretty hard. My spotter said it was raining pretty hard in (Turn) 3, so I tried to hold him off through the Tunnel (Turn) there.

“It was pretty exciting there coming to the end, when my crew chief, Zippy (Greg Zipadelli), told me about five laps (before) the caution came out that the 48 was catching me, and the rain was coming. I just kept on digging, and finally it just started downpouring in (Turn 3).”

Neither Logano nor Hamlin was a factor at the end. Logano had to make an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 189 and finished 26th. Hamlin’s No. 11 crew had trouble with lug nuts on his right rear tire on his last pit stop, and Hamlin was buried in the pack on the restart and finished 15th.



1 13 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 47/1 200 Running
2 11 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 43/1 200 Running
3 5 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 42/1 200 Running
4 18 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 40/0 200 Running
5 12 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Tornados 40/1 200 Running
6 31 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 38/0 200 Running
7 4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Ortho Home Defense Max 38/1 200 Running
8 9 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / 811 37/1 200 Running
9 19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 35/0 200 Running
10 7 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet CertainTeed / Menards 34/0 200 Running
11 28 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 33/0 200 Running
12 3 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 32/0 200 Running
13 25 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 31/0 200 Running
14 10 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 30/0 200 Running
15 6 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 31/2 200 Running
16 20 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 28/0 200 Running
17 8 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 27/0 200 Running
18 14 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Good Sam Club 26/0 200 Running
19 29 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 25/0 200 Running
20 27 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 24/0 200 Running
21 17 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 23/0 200 Running
22 16 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 22/0 200 Running
23 24 34 David Gilliland Ford Front Row Motorsports 21/0 200 Running
24 33 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 20/0 200 Running
25 22 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Reese Towpower / Highland 19/0 200 Running
26 1 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 19/1 200 Running
27 36 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Phoenix Construction / Thank A Teacher Today-Security Benefit 0 200 Running
28 2 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 16/0 200 Running
29 42 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 15/0 200 Running
30 21 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 14/0 198 Running
31 39 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 0 198 Running
32 23 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 12/0 198 Running
33 41 32 Jason White Ford 0 197 Running
34 15 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 10/0 149 Running
35 38 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy 9/0 79 Out of Race
36 32 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 9/1 30 In Pit
37 30 66 Todd Bodine Toyota HP Racing LLC 0 25 In Pit
38 37 30 David Stremme Chevrolet Life is Good Kids Foundation 6/0 18 In Pit
39 26 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 5/0 18 Out of Race
40 40 37 Scott Speed Ford Max Q Motorsports 0 16 Out of Race
41 43 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 14 In Pit
42 35 46 Erik Darnell Ford Red Line Oil 2/0 8 In Pit
43 34 55 J.J. Yeley Ford Front Row Motorsports 1/0 7 In Pit

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