The teeth-chattering bumps were paved over at Kentucky Speedway. But NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers still had a rough night at the Quaker State 400 on Saturday.
Brad Keselowski conserved enough fuel to win for the third time at Kentucky Speedway in six Cup races.
Matt Kenseth passed Keseslowski with six to go, then immediately relinquished the lead back to Keselowski as Kenseth pitted.
After Kenseth pitted, Keselowski then held an eight-second lead over Carl Edwards in a race to also save fuel. Keselowski – who said he didn’t have enough fuel with two laps to go – still had enough in the tank to beat a charging Edwards by 0.175 seconds.
Keselowski won what seemed like a race of attrition against tire wear, loose cars and fuel mileage.
Drivers had difficulty early keeping their cars underneath them. Both the repave and the new aerodynamic package that reduced downforce played a role.
Jimmie Johnson, who had finished in the top 10 his first five races at Kentucky, got loose and hit the Turn 4 wall on lap 33. Joey Logano hit the wall on lap 54. A seven-car accident on lap 93 served as Kentucky’s Big One.
As many as eight cars were in garage at same time.
Keselowski took the lead with 68 laps to go and build a 3.5-second lead over Kenseth with 20 laps remaining.
Martin Truex Jr. didn’t win, but he showed he had the best ride in the 40-car field. Truex Jr. exited the pits with the lead with 70 laps to go. But NASCAR slapped him with a passing penalty as he speed up approaching his pit stall. Truex restarted 22nd.
He drove through the field and climbed into third before pitting for tires and fuel with 10 laps to go. He finished 10th.
Tony Stewart, making his 600th career Sprint Cup start, finished fifth. Kentucky and Darlington are the two active tracks that Stewart has never won at.