Fuel strategy in a wreck-free race enabled NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski to nab the checkered flag for Penske Racing in the No. 2 Dodge during the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Humid, 94 degree summer-like weather took a bigger toll on the drivers than did the Safer-barrier walls as nearly all returned their race cars with scratch-free fenders into the garage for transporting.
It wasn’t exactly a hometown win for Brad Keselowksi who was born in Rochester Hills, Michigan, but his Midwest heritage and racing history in the area no doubt made the win as comfortable as home.
Although the race lacked the drama of last week’s fuel influenced victory by Kevin Harvick, the top three finishers, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin
had much to say before and after the brisk waving of the flags.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of motorsports topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Quotes derived from team and sanction press releases.
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Dodge) Finished first.
Before the green flag: “I place a lot of emphasis on running well in the Midwest. It’s an important area to me and my family. My dad and uncle won a lot of races around there. My brother and I won a lot of late model races in the Midwest as well. It means a lot to me to run up front and contend for wins when I go back now with Penske Racing.
“You can also run all over the track at Kansas, from the high lane to the low lane. It’s a great racetrack.”
After the checkered flag: “I didn’t know I was leading until two laps to go. Kind of stretched my neck out, barely caught the scoring pile to see I was leading, I was instantly mad at my guys for not telling me, but you get over that pretty quick when you cross the start/finish line first.
“We’d been doing everything we could to save gas. It didn’t really affect me whether I knew I was leading or not. It was probably really smart of them not to tell me that because I probably would have drove it really, really hard.
“It all worked out at the end, and they talk about you when you’re in victory lane, that’s all that matters.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Chevrolet) Finished second.
Before the green flag: “Kansas is a tough track. It is getting slick down in three and four and off of turn two. It is starting to get pretty slick over there. Just trying to get good forward bite out of the corner without getting the car too tight in the middle, that’s the key. The only thing that is different about the (1.5-mile) tracks themselves is just the condition of the asphalt; the condition of the track surface. Some tracks, depending on the region they are in, get slicker than others.”
After the checkered flag: “I like coming here. It don’t like the heat, the track don’t like the heat too much. You had to run dead against the apron. If you was off the apron by two or three inches you’re in trouble, there’s no grip. But I kind of like that because a lot of guys aren’t smart enough to do it every lap, I ain’t either but I think I’m more consistent than some. Some guys running around the top and there’s a lot of room. But it’s real slick. But that’s fine with me.
“About 60 laps in the race, the caution came out. I was real hot. I said I was just — I’ll be surprised if this heat don’t really bother me by the end of this race. But they do a couple of things back there and that helped out a ton plus we had something at stake at the end of the race which will get anybody up on their seat. I felt fine until I got out.”
Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Toyota) Finished third.
Before the green flag: “It’s a very flat track. We’ve not always hit the perfect setup there in the Cup car before. It’s a track that I’m glad we were going to twice, especially knowing that it’s a Chase race. That’s a place where we need to improve. We’re going to use this time around to hopefully build a setup in which we can be competitive when we go back for the Chase.”
After the checkered flag: “Just sit in there for four hours. It’s really, really hot. These cars, the exhaust is closer to the floorboard. So I mean we’re sitting right on our exhaust that’s a thousand degrees. All these cars are completely sealed off. We’ve got our window nets now to where they pretty much seal the left side of the car so there’s no air getting in or out of the car. So it’s just extremely hot. Your feet are just boiling throughout the day. I mean, it’s just, you know, sitting in a sauna for four hours and it’s pretty much what you got.”
“It was a good day. Not a fluke run by us. So it was a great run by us.”