Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gambled on fuel but Lady Luck wasn’t on his side. NASCAR’s most popular driver’s race car ran out of gas on the last lap of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was Brad Keselowski who put the money on the table and came away with the win.
Keselowski won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend in Las Vegas. Keselowski was the first driver to sweep both races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the same weekend since Jeff Burtondid it in 2000. Burton and Keselowski are the only two drivers to accomplish the feat.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. said in a post-race interview on Performance Racing Network that the team knew that he would be short on fuel and he had let up on the gas to try and save fuel. He was so far ahead of the second place-running Keselowski that it took quite a few laps for the #2 Miller Lite Ford to catch Earnhardt, Jr.’s Mountain Dew Chevy.
Earnhardt, Jr. had taken the lead after a round of pit stops during the fourth and last debris caution of the day with only 45 laps to go. He had the lead all the way until the final lap when his car’s gas tank went dry which allowed Keselowski to blow right by and take the win.
Keselowski started on the outside pole and kept in the top 13 throughout the race. He was off pit sequence for a portion of the day until cautions allowed him to catch up with the rest of the field in terms of pit stops.
Pole-sitter Joey Logano had the lead for the first 45 laps but the starting order shook up during a round of pit stops after the first caution of the day. He would continue to race in the top 13 throughout the day. He ended up in the fourth position.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick looked to be a threat again this week, but a hub in the front left wheel went out and was forced to go into the garage area for repairs. He led 23 laps and was running second when he pulled off the track.
Like Déjà vu, Kyle Busch had a slow pit stop after the first caution and started deep the field but charged to the front – just like he did in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. He fought his race car near the end of the race and finished 11th.
Tony Stewart has had a tough start to the season. He started in the 24th position and didn’t drive much past that mark as he had an ill-handling race car. He finished 33rd – uncharacteristic for the three-time champ.
Paul Menard had a decent day in the 267-lap race finishing in third. It looked like he was anxious to finish the race as his wife was expecting their first child at press time.
Austin Dillon was the highest finishing rookie in 16th.
Here’s the top ten: Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards,
Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, and Matt Kenseth.
Three races, three drivers in the Chase: Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race is Sunday, March 16 at 1 p.m. ET at Bristol Motor Speedway.