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Brad Keselowski conserves fuel, wins Chase race at Dover

The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

DOVER, Del. -- With a masterful job of saving fuel over a closing 79-lap green-flag run, Brad Keselowski regained the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup lead with a strategic win in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Keselowski inherited the race lead when Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin pitted for fuel from the top two positions late in the race. Keselowski beat hard-charging Jeff Gordon to the finish line by 1.078 seconds to win his series-best fifth race of the season, his second in the Chase, his first at Dover and the ninth of his career.

Mark Martin rallied from a lap down to run third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Johnson, who entered the race with a one-point edge over Keselowski in the Cup standings, left with a five-point deficit to his Dodge rival.

What Johnson couldn't accomplish on the race track, he did on pit road. With a 12.5-second stop for fuel and tires under caution for Matt Kenseth's Lap 308 brush with the Turn 2 wall, Johnson beat Busch, whose stop took a second longer, out of the pits for a restart on Lap 316.

Kenseth's crash in Turn 4 a lap later necessitated the fifth caution of the race, after which Johnson held the top spot from a restart on Lap 322 and kept Busch on his rear bumper until Lap 354. After a discussion about possibly sacrificing track position and saving fuel for the end of the race, Johnson gave way to Busch on the backstretch.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson, in fuel-saving mode, surrendered the second position to Hamlin, and all three of the top cars tried to compensate for shortfalls on fuel. Busch came to the pits for a splash of gas on Lap 390, and Hamlin followed on Lap 391. Busch and Hamlin finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
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