Dale Earnhardt Jr. was charging again, hoping that this time he’d be on top of a frantic late fuel-mileage battle.
Leader Brad Keselowski stretched his fuel perfectly, dashing Earnhardt’s hopes of snapping his 106-race winless streak while ending his own.
Keselowski held off Earnhardt to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., for his first win since taking Talladega 75 races ago.
Keselowski led the final nine laps, conserving just enough fuel to stave off Earnhardt. It’s the second Sprint Cup win in 66 races for Keselowski – and the first for Penske Racing since Kurt Busch won last year’s Coca Cola 600.
“We finally caught a break. Awesome call, Paul,” Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe, who guided him to the Nationwide Series championship and moved up to the Cup Series this year to help the driver rebound from last year’s rocky season.
Earnhardt finished second for the second week in a row in a fuel mileage race. Earnhardt appeared to have enough to make a late charge on Keselowski.
That push never came – though Earnhardt did move up to third in the points standings.
Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards, who holds a 40 point lead on Jimmie Johnson in the points standings.
Polesitter Busch led for 152 laps Sunday and finished ninth. He had to stop for gas as the leader with 10 laps remaining.
“I was all smiles. I felt the groove again, to lead the race. It was great, it was solid,” Busch said.
“There was always something in the back of my mind that we weren’t going to win, but I am proud Brad Keselowski did.”
The buzz before the Sprint Cup race was about the altercation between team owner Richard Childless and Kyle Busch that followed Saturday’s Trucks Series race.
NASCAR said Busch did nothing to violate his probation, clearing the driver of any fault in the incident President Mike Helton deemed “unacceptable.” Childless, though, had his track access restricted and will be subject to further penalty this week.
Kyle Busch, who led 11 laps, wound up 12th after his eventful weekend.
Spencer Massey raced to his second consecutive Top Fuel victory, beating points leader Del Worsham in the NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Mike Neff (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won their categories at the eighth of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Massey beat Worsham in the final with a run of 3.821 seconds at 319.07 mph.