Keselowski clinches Contender Round
berth with win
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski burns out after his victory at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday.
Brad Keselowski’s victory in Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway will guarantee the driver a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup’s second round.
Keselowski passed Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson with 16 laps to go while the two battled for the lead.
“I just saw a hole and I went for it,” Keselowski said post-race. “The 4 and the 42 were racing really hard, doing all the things they needed to do. It just opened a hole. I didn't know if my car would stick or not, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't try it. I tried it, it did. That got us into the lead.”
Keselowski held off Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon on the race’s final restart with six laps to go. With a margin of victory of 1.7 seconds, Keselowski captured his fifth victory of 2014 and second consecutive.
The win makes Keselowski the only driver to leave Chicagoland locked into the Chase’s next round, the Challenger round. But the win won’t put the No. 2 team on cruise control.
Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski leads the field in the closing laps at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory was Keselowski's 15th career win.
“I want to enjoy the moment but I still know there's nine weeks to go,” Keselowski said. “We have a bit of a hall pass for the next two, which I'm very appreciative. But those other seven, nobody cares that we won Chicago, nobody cares that we won Richmond or the other three races. It keeps resetting. You have to reset yourself.”
And for crew chief Paul Wolfe, the win may open the team’s playbook up for more opportunities to gamble.
“From a race strategy standpoint, obviously we can be a little more aggressive and maybe play a different strategy,” he said. “There were points in the race today where I knew it was important to just get a solid finish. We felt like coming into this, we don't need to win these first three races to advance to the next round, we just need solid runs. That was our goal.
“Obviously we want to win races and that's what we go out for. If we can't, it's salvaging a good finish.”