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Keselowski milks his fuel for the win at Dover

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, September 30, 2012

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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates in Victory Lane
Getty Images for NASCAR
The Penske team has the best engine on fuel mileage right now and that helped Brad Keselowski get his first win at the Monster Mile after Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and others had trouble with their fuel windows at the end.

Keselowski inherited the race lead when Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin pitted for fuel from the top two positions late in the race. Keselowski beat hard-charging Jeff Gordon to the finish line by 1.078 seconds to win his series-best fifth race of the season, his second in the Chase, his first at Dover and the ninth of his career.

Mark Martin rallied from a lap down to run third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Johnson, who entered the race with a one-point edge over Keselowski in the Cup standings, left with a five-point deficit to his Dodge rival.

What Johnson couldn't accomplish on the race track, he did on pit road. With a 12.5-second stop for fuel and tires under caution for Matt Kenseth's Lap 308 brush with the Turn 2 wall, Johnson beat Busch, whose stop took a second longer, out of the pits for a restart on Lap 316.

Kenseth's crash in Turn 4 a lap later necessitated the fifth caution of the race, after which Johnson held the top spot from a restart on Lap 322 and kept Busch on his rear bumper until Lap 354. After a discussion about possibly sacrificing track position and saving fuel for the end of the race, Johnson gave way to Busch on the backstretch.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson, in fuel-saving mode, surrendered the second position to Hamlin, and all three of the top cars tried to compensate for shortfalls on fuel. Busch came to the pits for a splash of gas on Lap 390, and Hamlin followed on Lap 391. Busch and Hamlin finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

"I thought it was a solid effort," said Jeff Gordon afterward.  "Our car was pretty good right from the start.  We struggled a little bit on the shorter runs.  But we got it going.  The car was a good top three or four car.

"Then we started really struggling on restarts.  Front tires, really no grip the first 10 laps.  So we started losing positions on restarts.  That probably played to our favor because we lost track position and then we ended up coming in and topping off there at the end.

"We had a good racecar.  Once we got going, then we were good.  Gave us the opportunity to not have to save fuel, keep the pressure on those other guys so couldn't conserve as much.

"The No. 2 made it.  Got a little bit tight at the end.  I thought it was going to be a race between me and Mark.  I saw him back there.  We had a little bit of a gap.  My car was working pretty good right there.  Started getting tight.  Boy, here he come.  We knew it could turn out to come down to a fuel mileage race.

"Still a great finish.  Come home second.  This is nice to follow up with what we had last week.  We're running good.  We were running good at Chicago when we had the issue.  I'm proud of this team.  Just taking a few steps in the points each week.  We got seven more weeks to get it done.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 10 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 47/1 400 Running
2 7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 43/1 400 Running
3 26 55 Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's 2000th Store / Bronx, NY 41/0 400 Running
4 11 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 41/1 400 Running
5 15 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 39/0 400 Running
6 3 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 38/0 400 Running
7 5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 39/2 400 Running
8 1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 37/1 400 Running
9 2 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 36/1 400 Running
10 14 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 34/0 400 Running
11 25 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew 33/0 398 Running
12 17 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Cargill 0 397 Running
13 13 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 31/0 397 Running
14 16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford 30/0 397 Running
15 9 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 29/0 397 Running
16 6 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch-Brite 28/0 397 Running
17 18 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 27/0 397 Running
18 27 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 26/0 397 Running
19 21 43 Aric Almirola Ford Super 8 25/0 397 Running
20 24 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 24/0 397 Running
21 8 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 23/0 397 Running
22 19 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / CertainTeed 22/0 396 Running
23 28 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 21/0 395 Running
24 20 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 20/0 394 Running
25 4 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 0 393 Running
26 35 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 18/0 393 Running
27 39 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 17/0 393 Running
28 38 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 0 393 Running
29 33 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 15/0 392 Running
30 31 34 David Ragan Ford Long John Silver's 14/0 392 Running
31 30 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 13/0 391 Running
32 42 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 12/0 391 Running
33 41 32 T.J. Bell Ford Greensmoke 0 390 Running
34 40 36 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Drive Sober, Drive Alive DE 10/0 388 Running
35 12 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford EcoBoost 9/0 371 Running
36 22 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 8/0 354 Running
37 23 26 Josh Wise * Ford MDS Transport 7/0 92 In Pit
38 32 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 6/0 51 In Pit
39 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 0 48 Out of Race
40 34 195 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 4/0 32 In Pit
41 43 37 Dave Blaney Chevrolet MaxQworkforce.com 3/0 29 In Pit
42 36 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 2/0 26 In Pit
43 29 191 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 0 18 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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