Home » FEATURE STORY, NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Keselowski’s Late Pass Is A Winner In Fontana

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 22 2015

Brad Keselowski celebrates victory in California. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Brad Keselowski passed Kurt Busch for the lead after a second green/white/checkered restart and drove away to victory in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Keselowski led just the one lap in the race, which was scheduled for 400 laps but ended up going 209.

It was the Team Penske driver’s first victory of the year and 17th of his career.

It was Keselowski’s first Cup win at Auto Club Speedway.

Kevin Harvick, gunning for a Western swing sweep after winning in Phoenix and Las Vegas, finished second while Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Busch clipped the wall after the final restart and was third.

Paul Menard and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

Keselowski, benefitting four-tire call on the last lap of regulation and two opportune cautions, finished .711 seconds ahead of Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion.

“At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught,” Keselowski said. “That was kind of the story of our race. It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh. That yellow came out (on Lap 185 for debris). We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now what do we do?

“So (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on. When he said that, I said, ‘This can either go really good or really bad.’ Didn’t know which one it was going to be. Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart.

“We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver’s dream. This is one we’re going to sit back and go ‘Wow!’ for a while.”

Harvick, who led 34 laps, felt bad for his teammate.

“I hate that the 41 (Busch) wasn’t able to hold on for the win there,” said Harvick, who posted his eighth straight top-two finish, dating to last year, and extended his series lead over Logano to 28 points. “I would have loved to see those guys get their first win.

“But you never know how the strategy is going to play out here. There’s so many cars on the lead lap, you didn’t want to get buried in there (by taking four tires). One little bad move for Brad, he would have been stuck in the middle of that traffic. But it all worked out for him. The second restart, he was in prime position up on the outside with fresh tires.”

Busch, who missed the first three races of the year after being suspend when his ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic assault, said, oh well.

“It was a solid day,” Busch said. “I don’t know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left.

“We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn’t need that extra yellow at the end. That last restart, I just didn’t get the job done, and I just got out muscled by Keselowski.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Auto Club 400

Auto Club Speedway

Fontana, California

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1. (8) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 209, $357781.

2. (2) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 209, $260130.

3. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 209, $205055.

4. (11) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 209, $158505.

5. (9) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 209, $156305.

6. (17) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 209, $132045.

7. (13) Joey Logano, Ford, 209, $155803.

8. (12) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 209, $136240.

9. (14) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 209, $150831.

10. (7) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 209, $149406.

11. (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, 209, $141546.

12. (31) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 209, $135168.

13. (15) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 209, $98110.

14. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 209, $128474.

15. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 209, $109560.

16. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 209, $136696.

17. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 209, $113160.

18. (4) David Ragan, Toyota, 209, $145051.

19. (22) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 209, $105760.

20. (33) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, 209, $93860.

21. (26) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 209, $126451.

22. (30) Brett Moffitt #, Toyota, 209, $122974.

23. (37) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 209, $119218.

24. (32) Cole Whitt, Ford, 209, $108493.

25. (40) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 209, $93610.

26. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 209, $120793.

27. (25) Brian Scott(i), Chevrolet, 209, $103843.

28. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 209, $106485.

29. (36) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 209, $132835.

30. (10) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 209, $125668.

31. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 209, $128746.

32. (29) Greg Biffle, Ford, 209, $121143.

33. (28) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 208, $96932.

34. (18) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 208, $105185.

35. (43) David Gilliland, Ford, 208, $94960.

36. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, 207, $86820.

37. (41) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 206, $86549.

38. (24) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 206, $80803.

39. (34) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 205, $78240.

40. (39) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, 205, $72740.

41. (38) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 205, $68740.

42. (42) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 203, $64740.

43. (16) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 155, $87585.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 140.662 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 58 Mins, 18 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.710 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes: 19 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Busch 1-5; K. Harvick 6-24; A. Bowman 25; M. Kenseth 26-31; D. Hamlin 32-61; J. Gordon 62; D. Hamlin 63-88; M. Kenseth 89-94; K. Busch 95-99; M. Truex Jr. 100-104; K. Busch 105-137; C. Edwards 138; K. Busch 139-143; K. Harvick 144-154; M. Kenseth 155-185; K. Harvick 186-189; K. Busch 190-200; J. Gordon 201-202; K. Busch 203-208; B. Keselowski 209;.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Busch 6 times for 65 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 56 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 43 laps; K. Harvick 3 times for 34 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 5 laps; J. Gordon 2 times for 3 laps; C. Edwards 1 time for 1 lap; B. Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap; A. Bowman 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 225; J. Logano – 197; M. Truex Jr. – 192; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 164; B. Keselowski – 163; R. Newman – 162; J. Johnson – 159; K. Kahne – 159; P. Menard – 152; A. Almirola – 138; A. Allmendinger – 137; C. Mears – 132; M. Kenseth – 127; D. Hamlin – 125; D. Ragan – 124; J. McMurray – 120.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, March 22 2015
No Comment

Comments are closed.