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Keselowski tops Johnson in first Chase race

NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland
Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Brad Keselowski
With a pass for the lead certain to stir controversy in the Hendrick Motorsports camp, Brad Keselowski won Sunday's GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Keselowski took the lead over pole-sitter and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson after an exchange of green-flag pit stops, with Keselowski reentering the track one lap later than Johnson, on Lap 231, and pulling up in front of Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet off Turn 2.

Keselowski pulled away to win by 3.171 seconds over Johnson, who led a race-high 171 laps but couldn't catch Keselowski during the last green-flag run.

The victory was Keselowski's fourth of the season, his first at Chicagoland and the eighth of his career. Kasey Kahne ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman, as Keselowski took a three-point lead over second-place Johnson with nine races left in the Chase.

During the race, NASCAR looked at videotape of Keselowski's return to the track in front of Johnson and decided no action was warranted.

A caution for Casey Mears' crash into the Turn 2 wall brought out the third caution of the race on Lap 149 and interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Johnson, Keselowski and Kahne had not pitted before the caution, and that trio remained out front for a restart on Lap 158.

Johnson quickly opened a gap of one second on Keselowski, with Kahne trailing the leader by more than four seconds as the green-flag run progressed. When Jeff Gordon passed Ryan Newman for fourth on Lap 174, Hendrick Motorsports had three of the top four cars in the running order.

Matt Kenseth dropped back drastically during the run, and his team prepared to change a right-front shock absorber, but Gordon became the first major casualty of the Chase on Lap 188, when the throttle of the No. 24 Chevrolet stuck as he entered Turn 1 and the car slammed the outside wall.

"I just let off the throttle, and it just didn't come all the way back," Gordon said as his crew tried to repair the car. "It was probably about half-throttle, which is still enough to do a lot of damage. We're looking at what the issue is right now, what could have caused it.

"We'll get back out, but in this deal you can't afford to have issues like that."

Gordon, the last driver in the Chase as the second wild card, finished 35th and, in all likelihood, fell out of the championship conversation.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 13 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 47/1 267 Running
2 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 44/2 267 Running
3 6 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 41/0 267 Running
4 21 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley 40/0 267 Running
5 20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors 39/0 267 Running
6 29 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 39/1 267 Running
7 10 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 37/0 267 Running
8 4 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / 7-Eleven / National Guard 36/0 267 Running
9 18 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 35/0 267 Running
10 9 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 35/1 267 Running
11 16 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 0 267 Running
12 35 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 32/0 267 Running
13 22 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch Blue 31/0 267 Running
14 15 55 Mark Martin Toyota LG Partner of the Year / Aaron's 30/0 267 Running
15 11 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Libman 29/0 267 Running
16 8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 29/1 267 Running
17 2 43 Aric Almirola Ford Farmland 28/1 267 Running
18 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 27/1 267 Running
19 5 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 25/0 267 Running
20 14 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World 0 267 Running
21 12 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 24/1 267 Running
22 37 34 David Ragan Ford Distraction.gov 23/1 267 Running
23 28 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 21/0 265 Running
24 32 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 20/0 265 Running
25 41 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 0 265 Running
26 23 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bubba Burgers 18/0 264 Running
27 17 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 17/0 263 Running
28 40 38 David Gilliland Ford 1-800LoanMart 16/0 263 Running
29 26 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 15/0 262 Running
30 39 32 T.J. Bell Ford U.S. Chrome 0 261 Running
31 38 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 13/0 259 Running
32 30 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 12/0 245 Running
33 42 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 11/0 199 Out of Race
34 7 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 10/0 197 Out of Race
35 19 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 9/0 190 In Pit
36 27 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 8/0 146 In Pit
37 36 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com 0 70 In Pit
38 43 26 Josh Wise * Ford MDS Transport 6/0 66 In Pit
39 31 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 5/0 60 In Pit
40 33 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 0 52 In Pit
41 25 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 3/0 49 In Pit
42 34 119 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 0 41 In Pit
43 24 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 1/0 38 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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