Brad Keselowski Kicks Off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a Win at Chicagoland Speedway
Keselowski takes an early three point lead over Jimmie Johnson
Joliet, Ill. – Sept. 16, 2012 – Brad Keselowski led the final 38 laps of the GEICO 400 en route to winning the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway.
Keselowski outdueled five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Jimmie Johnson, after taking the lead during the final round of green-flag pit stops. Keselowski pitted with 38 laps to go, one lap later than Johnson, and raced back onto the track just ahead of the No. 48 car setting up the victory.
"We're in victory lane, Race 1 of the Chase," said Keselowski. "It feels like Round 1 of a heavyweight title bout. It's good to win it. It feels great. But there's a lot of rounds left."
Johnson, the pole sitter, led a race-high 172 laps in the first segment of the 10-race Chase, but was unable to hold off Keselowski down the stretch.
"That last one, he was just better. Congratulations to those guys; they did an awesome job," Johnson said. "But a great way to start the Chase for us. Its 10 long races, a lot can happen. So to come out of here second is a great day."
Keselowski, who won in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Chicagoland Speedway in 2011, earned his fourth Sprint Cup win of the season on Sunday.
The additional 10 Chase drivers finished within the top 18, with the exception of Jeff Gordon, who finished 35th. Kasey Kahne finished in third, Tony Stewart was in sixth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth followed by Martin Truex Jr. in the ninth position and Clint Bowyer in 10th. Kevin Harvick was 12th and Greg Biffle followed in 13th while Denny Hamlin finished 16th after running out of fuel and Matt Kenseth closed out the day in 18th.