Brad Keselowski passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap of Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to score the victory. Keselowski notched his 11th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory after leading a dominating 52 laps of the 267 laps ran in ‘Sin City’.
“Heck of a call throughout the race to get us out front,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “At the end, this car was just really fast. I’m really proud of the car and proud of the team.”
“Carl Edwards helped me out there,” Keselowksi explained. “He gave me a little break and let me go after Dale.”
Keselowski, who won yesterday’s Boyd Gaming 300 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at LVMS, inherited the race lead after Earnhardt’s fuel tank went empty down the backstretch on the white flag lap. Earnhardt was able to continue and finished an acceptable second place, which becomes his second straight runner-up finish.
“It sucks to lose like that, but we can’t let that be a negative.” Earnhardt explained after climbing from his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “Running out of gas it tough, but one thing you can’t do it let it get under your skin, get under your team’s skin. Probably would have had a better record with about a Mountain Dew can full of fuel.”
The pivotal moment of the event occurred with 48 laps remaining when the fourth caution of the race flew for debris on the front stretch. Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard were among the front runners to hit pit lane in hopes that’d be their final stop of the race. However, considering we were in the famous gambling city of Las Vegas, Nevada, it was only appropriate for somebody to stay out and try to make it to the end on fuel.
Carl Edwards and Earnhardt were the only competitors to gamble and stay on the racetrack. Luckily, they both were able to have enough fuel in the tank to reach the checkered flag. Edwards finished fifth, which marks his first top five of the season and Earnhardt (like stated above) finish second.
Paul Menard, on the day his wife was scheduled to have her baby, finished third after sitting inside the top five all race long. Menard finished highest among the Richard Childress Racing stable and posted his first career top five at Vegas.
“It’s something we can definitely build on for more mile and a halfs,” said Menard, who was going back home to North Carolina, where his wife is due to deliver their first child.
Joey Logano, who started the race on the pole and led 44 laps, finished fourth after dying off during the middle part of the event. Jimmie Johnson, who led 34 laps today, finished sixth after being shuffled outside the top five late in the going.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the track next Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee in what’s going to only instigate existing feuds and create new ones while it’s at it.