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Kyle Busch Victory Secures Chase Spot

Article first published as Kyle Busch Victory Secures Chase Spot on Technorati.

Kyle Busch hammers out his first Michigan victory and becomes the only driver so far to secure spot in the Sprint Championship Chase. Busch held off defending champion Jimmie Johnson on a Green-White-Checkered restart for his first Michigan win.

“It’s awesome,” Busch said. “That’s what we wanted. We wanted to make sure that we could come out here and win races and have the opportunity to go for broke.” The victory was Busch’s fourth of the season and in the process denied Johnson the opportunity to go somewhere he’s never been — victory lane at Michigan.

Johnson settled for 2nd, a half second behind Busch. Brad Keselowski finished third, Mark Martin fourth and Ryan Newman took the five spot. Fifth through tenth – Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth.

With the win Busch guarantees, at worst, a wild-card berth in the Chase regardless of how he finishes the next three races, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. Coming into Michigan he shared the lead with co-front runner Carl Edwards who suffered early electrical problems and finished 36th. That misfortune relegated the Roush-Fenway driver to fourth in the standings.

Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs teammate, Denny Hamlin, had a slight altercation with the wall on lap 122 bringing out a caution, killing his hopes of improving his status in the Chase. Hamlin currently sits on the bubble for one of the wilid card spots. He has one win and sits in 14th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds on to the ninth spot with his lackluster 14th place finish.

NASCAR moves the show to Bristol, TN, for the Irwin Tools Night Race, next Saturday night on ABC.

Brad Keselowski Rides Broken Ankle to Victory Lane

Article first published as Brad Keselowski Rides Broken Ankle to Victory Lane on Technorati.

Over the race season victories begin to run together. Another driver – another checkered flag.

But every now and then a driver steps up and beyond a normal day at the track. Brad Keselowki won Sunday’s “Good Sam RV Insurance” 500 at Pocono with a broken ankle and a dogged determination.

After a lengthy rain delay, which kept cars off the track for an hour and forty minutes, Keselowski led the field on the lap 132 restart with Kurt Busch close by in second but faded to fourth. For the next several laps the Busch brothers ran one and two with Kurt out front.

On Lap 180, Kasey Kahne and Juan Montoya got together bringing out the last caution of the day.

In what turned out to be the gutsy call of the day, Keselowski stayed out on old tires and raced Kyle Busch on the restart with fifteen laps remaining. Even on old rubber the Keselowski machine seemed to easily maintain a comfortable lead and Busch never seriously challenged the young driver for the position.

At the finish it was Brad Keselowki for the win, Kyle Busch in second, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson traded paint on the last lap to settle third and fourth place respectively, without respect for each other. Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. Jeff GordonCarl EdwardsGreg BiffleDale Earnhardt Jr. and Paul Menard completed the top 10.

In the victory lane celebration, Keselowski kept it low-key minimizing his effort by saying, “I’m no hero. The heroes are the guys who died in Afghanistan this weekend. I want to spend time thinking about them. They’re my inspiration for this weekend, the things that those guys do.

“I’m glad that we could win today, but those are the heroes. I just drive race cars for a living.” Keselowski drove the US Navy sponsored car when he drove the Nationwide series.

With the victory, Keselowski helps his chances for one of the Wild Card positions for the ten race Chase for the Sprint cup. The 11th and 12th spots in the Chase this year can be grabbed by a driver in the 11th through 20th positions who has the most victories. The win today was his second of the season. Keselowski sits in the 18th slot.

The 9th for Dale junior was his first top ten in seven races. He still sits on the bubble in 10th, one point below 9th place Tony Stewart.With six more races to determine the Chase, look for drivers outside the top ten without a win to start taking chances. It’s crunch time and nobody knows that better than Brad Keselowski.

The NASCAR show moves to Watkins Glen next Sunday for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, next Sunday.