Who would’ve thought Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway would end on fuel mileage?
The newly reconfigured speedway brought havoc on many drivers in the early stages of the race. However, it ended with Brad Keselowski coasting to the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards following a 68-lap green-flag run. The victory for Keselowski is his fourth of 2016 and third in six Kentucky races.
“That was something,” Keselowski said. “I thought I was out [of fuel] and that I wasn’t going to win the race based on what I felt in the car. Im not even sure you can really say we made it because we ran out with about two laps to go, it made it stumble really bad. I was able to somehow limp it all around the last two laps.”
Edward started picking his song for the Victory Lane jukebox when Keselowski slowed off Turn 4 coming to the white flag. Keselowski motored back on, leaving only a broken record for Edwards.
“That was really frustrating,” Edwards said. “He baited me in there and I thought he was surely out [of fuel]. And then he just went and blocked. Man, it’s hard to swallow that one. We thought we had it no problem and he played it perfectly.
“I already had things bought, I knew what I was going to play on that jukebox. I had the whole thing figured out.”For third-place finisher Ryan Newman, Saturday marked his first top-5 finish of 2016, as he jumped up the running order in the final laps.
“This is four places better than our best finish all year,” Newman said. “Our first top 5. For out team, that’s a big deal. Especially where we are in the Chase, we had a good points night even though it wasn’t a win.”
Most of the field will exit Kentucky in a riff, after a record-tying 11 cautions flew throughout the 267-lap event.
Staring with a cut tire by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in Turn 4, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano were the next to find the fourth-turn wall.
“Trying to slow down a lot, the brakes started going away and I don’t know what happened after that,” Logano said. “If a rotor blew up or what made the tire go down, the right front went flat and I was pretty much along for the ride after that. Hit a ton.”
Joining the frenzy in the garage area, the star rookies of 2016, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott, crashed together on lap 87 shortly after a restart. Blaney took responsibility for the accident, saying he simply got loose.
“When you have a car at your bumper, a car inside, a car outside, it’s pretty possible to do,” Blaney said. “I hate to see two fast racecars torn up.”
The most significant incident of the night occurred shortly thereafter, when Brian Scott spun down in front of Chris Buescher, leading to a hard crash down the backstretch.
Despite all the troubles, the 68-lap run to the end led to strong finishes for a number of unlikely contenders.
Kurt Busch, who started the race in the rear, led 10 laps and came home fourth. Behind him was Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart, who grabbed his second top-5 finish of the year in what will prove to be a massive step toward making the Chase.
Greg Biffle grabbed sixth while Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick – who led a race-high 128 laps – and Martin Truex, Jr., who overcame a pit road penalty to manage 10th.
Cole Whitt finished 21st in his No. 98 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, clinching his best non-plate result of the season.
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