He would lead the final green-flag run to the finish despite running out of gas coming to the white flag.
(7) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.
Brad Keselowski's calm demeanor was never more evident than his cool response to a tense moment. The driver of the No. 2 Ford captured last week's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
No discussion of Kentucky Speedway is complete without mentioning Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski, each of whom has won the 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race twice and loom as the favourites on Saturday night. "It's just the way it goes, I guess". But it changed things a lot with the feel in the vehicle and the things you want in the auto. "But there's nothing you can about it, and freaking out ain't going to help anything". Keselowski's lead started at ten seconds, but aggressive fuel saving soon cut it to six, and when he briefly stumbled with two to go, Carl Edwards cut it to just a second. Keselowski would fend off Carl Edwards on the last lap on a dry fuel tank to capture his fourth victory of the season.
Ryan Newman finished third, followed by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, who was making his 600th career Cup Series start.
Eleven drivers have won races already this year and are all but assured of Chase spots. His latest triumph on the 1½ mile tri-oval might have been his most impressive in terms of strategy. The Penske Racing driver pitted just four times and made the most of his gas tank down to the last drop, withstanding one last charge from Edwards.
Keselowski had slowed dramatically over the race's final five laps to make it to the end without pitting again. "And I think that showcased a lot of hope for our abilities to work together as a sport that has kind of created a wave of momentum that we're carrying today". He let me get to him and then [he] stood on it. But we had an opportunity to win the race, and I really appreciated my crew chief putting us in that position and the power and the fuel mileage that we get.
"I figured that was going to be the smart thing to do because I had been trying to run around some lapped cars on the top-side of (Turns) 3 and 4", Busch said. Granted, practice speeds aren't a guarantee of what will happen during the race, but they are the best indicator we have of which drivers have a handle on this current version of Kentucky Speedway. Kentucky's track was resurfaced earlier this year, smoothing the track and eliminating some "weepers" (areas where water seeps through after it rains) and increasing the banking in turns 1 and 2 (the track was also narrowed from 74 to 56 feet entering the first two turns).
After starting ninth in Thursday night's Camping World Truck Series race, Louisville teenager Ben Rhodes ran as high as sixth.
The repaved and reprofiled Kentucky proved to be a tough opponent, with a record-tying 11 cautions. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up dominating the race.
On Lap 88, Ryan Blaney spun from the middle of a three-wide dilemma in Turn 3 and took the No. 24 Chevrolet of fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitor Chase Elliott with him. He has also cracked the top 10 in all five races at Kentucky, leading the third-most laps.
It all added up to a race in which pretty much everyone said they had no idea what to expect. "I think it's just red". Goodyear brought its hardest tire compound, because their planned rubber had started to blister during the compatibility test here on June 13-14.