Kansas City (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. was charging again,
hoping that this time he'd come out on top in a frantic late
But leader Brad Keselowski stretched his tank
perfectly Sunday to win the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway — and
extend Earnhardt's winless streak to 106 races.
Keselowski led the
final nine laps for his second Sprint Cup victory in 66 races, and the
first for Penske Racing since Kurt Busch last year in the Coca-Cola 600.
Keselowski also had a surprise 2009 victory at Talladega in only his
fifth career Cup start.
"There are some secrets to it and I just maximized them all. I had plenty (of fuel) left," Keselowski said.
appeared set to make a late charge on Keselowski. That push never came —
though Earnhardt did move up to third in the standings and is just one
point behind Jimmie Johnson.
For the second week in a row in a
fuel-mileage race, Earnhardt came up just short. He ran out of gas near
the finish in Charlotte and wound up seventh.
"Anytime you win a
fuel mileage race you've done something as a driver," Earnhardt said.
"We don't know what we're doing really trying to save gas or how much
we're saving. But (Keselowski) had a hand in it."
Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards, who holds a 40-point lead over Johnson.
Johnson fought from 31st position and finished seventh.
Polesitter Busch led 152 laps and finished ninth. He had to stop for gas as the leader with 10 laps left.
was all smiles. I felt the groove again, to lead the race. It was
great. It was solid," Busch said. "There was always something in the
back of my mind that we weren't going to win, but I am proud Brad
Keselowski won the pole last week at Charlotte and has been on a monthlong upswing for Penske.
seemed to come to life just as teammate Kurt Busch reached his wits
end, with his displeasure culminating in an expletive-laden rant against
That led to behind-the-scenes personnel changes
at Penske, including the announcement that technical Tom German was
leaving the team to attend a graduate program at MIT.
Keselowski also took exception to a comment Busch made that it had been
several years since he'd had a teammate capable of running the same pace
Since then, Keselowski logged a third-place finish, raced
his way into the All-Star race and, on Sunday, earned a win that could
help him nab a wild-card spot in the Chase to the Sprint Cup
"It's because of the bad finishes and the struggles
that we had to get here that I really appreciate this win," Keselowski
said. "We're in good shape. A few more wins like this and we can make
The buzz before the Sprint Cup race was about the
altercation between team owner Richard Childless and Kyle Busch that
followed Saturday's Trucks Series race.
NASCAR said Kyle Busch did
nothing to violate his probation, clearing the driver of any fault in
the incident President Mike Helton deemed "unacceptable." Childless,
though, had his track access restricted and will be subject to further
penalty this week.
Kyle Busch, who led 11 laps, wound up 12th after his eventful weekend.
was a solid day," he said. "Qualified up front and ran decent much of
the race. We probably had a seventh or eighth-place car (Sunday) and
just kind of got off fuel mileage there at the end."