Mon, Jul 02, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Keselowski pulls away for Kentucky NASCAR win

AP, SPARTA, KENTUCKY

Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday in Sparta, Kentucky.

Photo: AFP

Driving his backup car, Brad Keselowski raced to third NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the year, grabbing the lead with 55 laps remaining and holding off all challengers on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

The 28-year-old picked up his seventh win in his five years on the circuit. He won earlier this year at Bristol and Talladega.

While registering his 16th career top-five finish, he ended a lull over the past four starts in which he failed to crack the top 10.

He was driving his backup car after slamming the right side of his top car into the wall in the wake of a collision with Juan Pablo Montoya during practice earlier in the week. That mishap took place on his very first lap on the track.

“It wasn’t the newest car we got, but it runs,” Keselowski said.

Kasey Kahne rode a late surge to second place, 4.399 seconds back. Denny Hamlin was third, Dale Earnhardt Jr fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth. Hamlin announced a new agreement with Joe Gibbs Racing on his Twitter account just before the start.

A year after severe traffic congestion resulted in thousands of angry fans, there were few glitches after the track and government officials widened ramps and roads and added 20,000 parking spaces.

Defending champion Kyle Busch was dominating for most of the first half of the race before he bumped into the wall and had to fight suspension problems — a broken shock absorber — that dropped him off the pace.

With an uncharacteristic white paint job on his Chevrolet, pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson led at the 200-lap mark, but fell back all the way to 11th due to a flat tire. He finished sixth.

Matt Kenseth, in action for the first time since announcing that he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing after the season, surged late to place seventh.

Rounding out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr, A.J. Allmendinger and defending champion Kyle Busch, who dominated most of the first half of the race before hitting the wall and breaking a shock absorber that dropped him off the pace.

Tony Stewart fell to the back of field early after fuel-injection problems.

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