DOVER, Del. — Brad Keselowski did it again.
Saving fuel during the final green flag run, Keselowski took the lead when the dominant team Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin pitted for gas with 10 laps remaining, and held off hard charging Jeff Gordon, who had topped off his tank prior to the final green flag at the one-mile oval, for his fifth victory of the season.
The second triumph in three Chase races for the Penske Racing Dodge No. 2, pushed Keselowski to the top of the standings with seven races remaining.
“Penske Engines has done a tremendous job with these engines. They have balanced these engines. I am proud of the effort,” said Keselowski after his ninth career Sprint Cup triumph. “This has been one of our weakest tracks and we ran up front all day. We might not have been in the lead, but we just kept creeping around and when you do that you put yourself in position to do good things. That’s what this 2 team has done for the last few races and, man, if we do this for the next seven races, it is going to be an awesome seven weeks.”
Gordon brought his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet home second and moved to 10th in the standings, 48 behind Keselowski.
“The car was really working well through the middle part of the run,” said Gordon. “The race really fell into our hand. We had some issues getting going on a restart during the middle part of the race, so we decided to top off and we didn’t have to save fuel. I saw I was catching those guys and I was hoping they would have to save fuel and everybody did but the 2 (Keselowski). We knew coming into the Chase that fuel mileage would be a factor and we are behind on the 2 car. They have something figured out on the fuel mileage.”
Mark Martin, who is not part of the Chase, finished third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, while Jimmie Johnson, who gave up the lead during the final run to save fuel, made it to the end, and finished fourth, keeping his Hendrick Motorsports team only five markers behind Keselowski in his fight for a sixth series championship.
“We’re not very good at fuel mileage racing,” Johnson said. “Chad (Knaus, crew chief) asked me to start saving fuel and I doubled the distance. It’s tough. It really is, but we have a number of races each year that it comes down to and this is the second of 15 that we have tried to finish in a low fuel situation that we actually made it to the finish. So, we are improving. We got control of the race late, but it didn’t unfold for us to win the race.”
Carl Edwards was fifth in Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Busch led a race-high 302 laps and finished seventh while Hamlin, who started from the pole, was sixth in his Joe Gibbs Racing machine. Hamlin is third in the standings, 16 behind Keselowski.