By Patrick Rall
started 20th this past weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway but he
quickly worked his way to the front of the field en route to leading the most
laps in the Bank of America 500.
Unfortunately, due to a stupid miscalculation later in the race, BK ran
out of gas and had to fight his way back through the field to settle for a
disappointing 11th place finish.
is not unheard of for the leader to run out of gas late in the race while
trying to avoid a quick, late race pit stop, Brad Keselowski ran out of gas on
lap 276 – 58 laps from the end of the race.
Keselowski and his team were trying to stretch his second to last tank
of fuel out one extra lap to help ensure that he would have enough fuel to make
a strong run for the win but evidently, there was a miscalculation in the pits
that caused BK to run out of gas just past the exit of the pits. This forced him to coast the car around the
track and into the pits for fuel. By the
end of that final round of pit stops, Keselowski and his #2 Miller Lite Charger
were sitting in the 14th position.
He was able to fight his way back up to 11th in the final 50
or so laps but that comes as a brutal disappointment after his Charger was
clearly the best car in the field all day.
“It’s like playing blackjack,” said Keselowski. “Sometimes you’re going to
get a good deal but you’re not going to win them all. You know that. You hope
that you’re sitting there with 13 and not have a lot of chips in the pile. We
didn’t. We didn’t lose too much. We got 11th (place) out of the
day where everything kind of fell against us from cautions at the beginning to
lack of them at the end. We still put out a respectable effort. It was a good
day, led a bunch of laps, which helps for not getting in the top 10. Would like
to get those other few spots but you’re not going to catch those breaks every
time. We still made the most of it.”
compelled to point the finger of blame on Keselowski’s crew chief Paul Wolfe
for the failure in Charlotte. This is
the kind of mistake that championship caliber teams just do not make. How often do we hear about Chad Knauss
(Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief) or Jimmy Fenning (Matt Kenseth’s crew chief) or Kevin
Hamlin (Dale Earnhardt Sr’s crew chief), making errors that cause them to run
out of gas with 58 laps left in the race…during races that were in the final
stretches of a championship run? You don’t
hear about those championship winning crew chiefs making mistakes like that and
should Keselowski end up losing the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship by a
slim margin, it is Paul Wolfe who should face the brunt of the fans’ anger for
making this careless error.
Chase runner up Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd after starting 5th
in his Chevy at Charlotte while 3rd place Denny Hamlin finished 2nd
after starting 9th in his Toyota Camry. Luckily, Keselowski had a fair leading
heading into Charlotte so he still holds a 7 point lead in the championship run
over Johnson and a 15 point lead over Denny Hamlin. Fortunately, Brad received a 1 point bonus
for leading a lap and a 1 point bonus for leading the most laps in addition to
the 33 points that he got for finishing 11th for a total of 35
points. Had he won the race, he would
have received 43 points for the 1st place finish, 3 bonus points for
winning, 1 bonus point for leading a lap and 1 bonus point for leading the most
laps for a total of 47 points. This
means that the stupid fuel economy error cost BK 12 points in the season
standings. Also, had the finishing order
been pushed back one spot with the #2 Charger in the top spot, both Johnson and
Hamlin would have received one less point each.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup is now halfway over and as a Dodge fan
staring down the end of the NASCAR era – I am pulling as hard as ever for Brad
Keselowski and his #2 Charger atop the podium as they fight for the