- Brad Keselowski
- Jimmie Johnson
- Denny Hamlin
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By The Sports Xchange September 30, 2012 7:10 PM
Jimmie Johnson's forte. After all, the five-time champion has seven wins at the track, the most of any active driver on the circuit. But the AAA 400 at the track on Sunday turned into a fuel mileage race, and fuel mileage races are more the style of Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.DOVER, Del. -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Racing at Dover International Speedway is definitely
Keselowski and his No. 2 team used their fuel mileage expertise to claim the Dover win after Johnson was forced to slow his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet quite a bit in the closing laps to save fuel. "Penske Engines has done a phenomenal job with these engines," Keselowski said. "It's a balance." Keslowski also took over the points lead from Johnson, while Johnson wound up finishing fourth on Sunday. "For starters, we're not very good at fuel mileage races," Johnson said. "I'm improving; we're improving." Johnson may be improving in the area of fuel mileage, but it's an area in which Keselowski has already mastered. "We knew it was going to be close," Keselowski's crew chief, Paul Wolfe said. "We knew everyone else was in the same boat, but we get a little bit beter fuel mileage." Johnson's Hendrick teamate, Jeff Gordon in the No. 24, finished second after being one of the few drivers on the lead lap who pitted to top off with fuel a few laps later than most of the race field. "The car was really working well through the middle part of that (final) run," Gordon said. "With about 15 to go, the car got really tight." Mark Martin fought his way back from two laps down early in the race to finish third in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. "We passed cars, and passed cars, and passed cars," Martin said. "We passed a lot of race cars today." Much of the race was dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing, specifically Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. After his teammate, Denny Hamlin in the No. 11, started on the pole and led the first 40 laps of the race, Busch took the lead. The first caution of the race came out for debris on lap 69, not long after the race field began cycling through green-flag pit stops. That yellow flag caught most cars two laps down, and through much of the remainder of the race, fewer than 10 cars were scored on the lead lap. Busch continued to lead the small contingent of lead-lap cars until Hamlin opted to take only two tires on a pit stop during a caution on lap 179 to get off pit road first and restart with the lead. The stint up front for Hamlin was short-lived, though, as Busch got right back to the front on the restart. Busch gave up his position when the yellow flag waved again on lap 300 when the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Matt Kenseth broke a track bar. Johnson got off pit road ahead of Busch and claimed the lead for the first time in the race. Busch wasn't finished leading, though. He got back to the front with 45 laps to go in the 400-lap event when Johnson went into fuel conservation mode. Soon after, Johnson gave up the second spot to Hamlin and then third to Keselowski. Busch and Hamlin didn't have enough fuel to go the rest of the way, so both pitted in the final 10 laps of the race, handing the lead over to Keselowski. Johnson, still in fuel conservation mode, gave up additional spots in the final laps, falling back to fourth for the finish. "We hung around in the top-five," Keselowski said. "When you do that, you put yourself in contention." Carl Edwards finished ninth in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. The No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. was the only other car to finish on the lead lap, taking the sixth spot. After their late-race, green-flag stops, Busch and Hamlin finished one lap down in seventh and eighth positions. NOTES: The Dover win was Keselowski's fifth of 2012 and ninth of his career ....... Keselowski now has two wins in the three Chase for the Sprint Cup races completed so far this year ..... Keselowski retook the championship points lead from Johnson and now leads by five points .... Keselowski's car owner Roger Penske has never won a Sprint Cup championship .... Keselowski gave Penske his only NASCAR championship -- the Nationwide Series title in 2010.