Sparta, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - Brad Keselowski won the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway for the second time in three years on Saturday night.
Keselowski started on the pole and put on a dominating performance by leading 199 of 267 laps in this Sprint Cup Series race. Either Keselowski or his Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, who started second, led all of the first 216 laps until a caution came for accident involving Aric Almirola.
Just prior to the caution, Kyle Busch had pitted from third during a round of green-flag stops. Busch returned to the track still on the lead lap when the caution flag waved.
During the caution, Keselowski and the other frontrunners pitted for the final time, allowing Busch to take the lead with 50 laps remaining. Keselowski was running in the sixth position for the restart with 48 laps left.
Busch ran in front for 31 laps before Keselowski chased him down and reclaimed the lead for good with 19 laps to go. Keselowski beat Busch to the finish line by just over a second.
"It was kind of one of those races where you just know that you have a really fast car, and my Miller Lite Ford Fusion was hauling the mail, but you're just waiting for something to go wrong, and it did there on that last yellow," Keselowski said. "It caught us out of sequence. I restarted in sixth and had a decent restart, but I didn't think I was going to catch Kyle. The car was just that great."
Keselowski also had a dominant performance in Friday night's Nationwide Series race here, starting on the pole and leading 138 of the first 148 laps, but he was penalized for speeding off of pit road, which dropped him to 17th in the running order. He finished second to Kevin Harvick in that event.
In Thursday's Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky, Keselowski held the lead in the late stages but had a pit-road mishap when a wrench was still attached to his truck after leaving his stall. He had to pit again and fell back in the field. Keselowski bounced back for a fifth-place finish, while Busch took the checkered flag.
Keselowski scored his second win of the season and the 12th of his Sprint Cup career. His first win in 2014 came at Las Vegas, a 1.5-mile racetrack similar to Kentucky.
With two wins to his credit during the regular season, Keselowski is now assured of making this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. He joins Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, who won last weekend in Sonoma, California, and Logano as those drivers with multiple victories this season.
Keselowski won his first Sprint Cup title in 2012.
"I really want another championship," he said. "I think this team will get close to that position if we keep running like this."
In the Kentucky race two years ago, Keselowski started eighth and led just 68 laps en route to the win. He's the only driver with multiple Sprint Cup victories here. The series began competing at this track in 2011. Keselowski finished 33rd in the 2013 race after he was involved in a multi-car crash in the early going.
"Last year was pretty humbling to wreck early in this race, so it feels really good to get back to this form," he said. "I think I appreciate it more now than ever."
Busch's second-place finish marked his first top-five finish since April at Richmond and first top-10 since one month ago at Charlotte.
"We had a good car all night," Busch said. "Feels nice to have a solid run, lead some laps, and although we faded at the end, we gave it a valiant effort. So hopefully, we can take some of this and move forward with it."
Ryan Newman, in his first year with Richard Childress Racing, finished a season-best third. Matt Kenseth, who won this race one year ago, placed fourth, and Earnhardt was fifth.
Finishing sixth through 10th were: Jeff Gordon, the current points leader, Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Logano and Johnson. Logano dealt with an overheating issue in the closing laps.
Denny Hamlin and rookie Kyle Larson had their night end early when they were involved in separate crashes.
While running in the top-five, Hamlin blew his right-front tire and made hard contact with the wall on lap 29, one lap before the scheduled competition caution.
"A product of a green racetrack, and we were one lap from getting that competition caution," said Hamlin, who finished last in the 42-car field. "My car really didn't give me any indication we were burning up the right-front. I made sure I kept it under me the entire run. Just couldn't last the 30 laps that it needed to."
Shortly after on lap 77, Larson hit the wall after he experienced the same tire issue as Hamlin. He finished 40th.
"I saw where Denny blew his right-front, and I'd been pretty tight," Larson said. "But I didn't think we had any tire issues all weekend. I was kind of shocked when he blew his right-front. And then we were pretty tight on our run. I felt like I was using up my right sides. I told myself to get back down just in case there would be tire problems, and I guess I just used up my tires too much."
Gordon's point lead is now 24 over his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson and Earnhardt. Keselowski moved up to fourth in the standings (-58).