Brad Keselowski put a clinic on at the Richmond International Raceway Saturday night winning the Federated Auto Parts 400. Keselwoski beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line by .797 seconds for his fourth win of the season putting him at the front of the newly formatted Chase for the Sprint Cup grid. He led a whopping 383 of the 400 laps after starting from the pole.
Clint Bowyer finished behind Gordon in third, an effort that failed to get him into the Chase. Jamie McMurray finished fourth, followed closely by Kevin Harvick, the only other driver who led laps during the race (17 laps led early in the race). Harvick’s lead was relinquished after a competition caution flag flew early in the race due to the heavy rains that swept through Richmond on a very hot and humid day.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to enter the Chase than to win and take the first seed,” Keselowski said after the race. “We’re ready. We want to run for another Cup. We really feel like this team has it. Team Penske is really clicking. It’s the 400th win for Team Penske, and this feels so lucky to have such an incredible team and a car like we did tonight and be able to execute it and not have any bad luck. We’ve had plenty of bad luck over the last few weeks, but wow, what a night.” He also said, “What a night. Part of me, I pulled into victory lane and I pinched myself once to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. These are nights you don’t forget as a driver and you live for.”
Harvick said post race, “We didn’t have the best car tonight but got a Top 5 out of it and that’s what you’re going to have to do over the next 10 weeks to keep yourself in the game. And that’s really what it’s about it keeping yourself in the game. You’ve got to keep doing that and everything else; the race car runs fine and you’ve just got to battle every week.”
“It was a good night,” third place finisher Bowyer said. “The 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 24 (Jeff Gordon) have been the class of the field all season long. That’s all I had, that’s all we had as a race team. Everybody gave it their all this week. That’s all you can ask for and we were third best. That’s kind of been everybody’s problem this year, the 2 and the 24.”
The race was rather uneventful for a short track race with so much on the line as our drivers battled for the last two positions available for the Chase. There were no cautions due to accidents or on track incidents. There were cautions for debris on the race track and one for a fan who climbed on the race track fence where he sat for a few moments until track security got him down.
In the media center after the race Keselowski was informed of the fence climber and with his usual candor said, “Really? The Miller Lite (his sponsor) was working. Wow, that’s something. I wonder if he got a selfie.”
Jeff Gordon said about the race, “Really solid effort all weekend long. When it counted most, the team stepped up. I am really, really proud of and excited for these next 10 weeks. We just didn’t have what Brad (Keselowski) had on the short runs. He was able to take off and get away from us, but we were better than he was on the long runs. We gave it a heck of an effort. All in all we are just a solid, consistent team that also knows how to win. You can’t ask for better than that. Now, if we can make ourselves a little bit better at some of these places, watch out.”
Joey Logano finished sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Jimmie Johnson eighth, Ryan Newman ninth, and Aric Almirola tenth. After the race Johnson needed assistance after climbing from the car due to what was reported to be a case of dehydration after he was released from the infield care center.
Next week’s race kicks off the Chase for the Sprint Cup at the Chicagoland Speedway.
Complete Finishing Order:
|POS.||CAR||DRIVER||STARTING POS.||LAPS||LAPS LED|
|12||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||400||0|
|25||78||Martin Truex Jr||29||396||0|
|26||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||7||396||0|