"We shouldn't have run second again!”

Brad Keselowski Wins at Kansas

Brad Keselowski stayed cool on fuel to record his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas (photo courtesy: Jamie Squire, Getty Images Sport)

Fuel strategy rendered heartbreak for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the second race in a row. His second-place finish moved "Junior" to third in the NASCAR Race to the Chase standings with 13 races of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the record books. After Race 26, the Top 10 drivers plus two wild cards not in the Top 10 who score the highest number of victories will contend for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship “playoff” system—the winner of which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend for a 10th consecutive season this fall. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Earnhardt Jr. was forced to settle for the runner-up spot and was kept out of a potential trip to Victory Lane for a second straight week because of fuel mileage.

But the Hendrick Motorsports driver was still satisfied with the day which included his comeback from an earlier race spin.

“I had a good car, you know,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I spun out up there tryin' to find a little more speed on the top. We had a fast car though. Just started way back there in the back, man. We ain't qualified no better than 22nd besides Daytona and Talladega. We need to fix that somehow. It was a fast car."

Brad Keselowski was the race winner in Kansas. Earnhardt appeared to have enough fuel to make a late charge on Keselowski, but Keselowski conserved just enough fuel to beat Earnhardt Jr. to the checkered flag to earn his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win in 66 races.

2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch controlled the weekend, winning the pole and leading 152 of 267 laps, but Keselowski passed his Penske Racing teammate with nine laps remaining to take home his first victory of the 2011 season.

“It was a team victory today. My teammate dominated, Kurt had them covered on speed and we did on strategy,” said Keselowski.

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon brought the No. 24 to the finish line in fourth and made big gains in the standings, up to 13th place. Keselowski's win, along with the performance of Denny Hamlin and Gordon, jumbles the race for the two Chase wildcard spots as the season hits the halfway mark to when NASCAR's playoff field is set. After Race 26, the Top 10 drivers plus two wild cards not in the Top 10 who score the highest number of victories will contend for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship “playoff” system—the winner of which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend for a 10th consecutive season this fall. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

The Top 10 in points after the September Richmond race are guaranteed a Chase spot. The final two Chase positions go to the drivers with the most wins who are also between 11th and 20th in the point standings with a Champion to be decided in Miami. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Keselowski's win moved him four spots in the standings, but he's 21st in the points and would not be eligible for a wildcard spot at this time.

"We've caught some bad breaks over the last few weeks that have kept us out of it," Keselowski said of being in the top 20 in points. "And certainly we caught a good one today. So at the end it will all average out. If we deserve to be in it we'll get in it. If we don't, we won't. But right now we're on a good path to deserve to be in it. That's really what matters the most to me."

He's not alone.

Last year’s NASCAR Championship runner-up Hamlin finished third and moved to 11th in the points. A slow start to the season put Hamlin deep in the standings but he's climbed nine spots in the last six races. Without a win, though, Hamlin could get bumped out of a Chase spot even if he was 11th in the points when the Chase field is set.

Gordon's fourth-place finish moved him three spots to 13th in the standings. He has a win, helping his chances to get in the Chase, but Gordon said this weekend that he needed better finishes.

"This is definitely going to build a lot of momentum for our team," Gordon said. "We've had good runs; we just haven't been able to put the finishes together."

Two-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart finished eighth after leading twice for a total of 20 of the 267 laps. He now sits eighth in the Sprint Cup Series standings, with a Champion to be decided in Miami. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Local Kansas Speedway favorite and reigning Ford 400 winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway Carl Edwards rounded out the Top 5. Edwards continues to lead the point standings with Jimmie Johnson in second, 40 points behind Edwards. Earnhardt Jr. is in third, one point behind Johnson.

 “I really wanted to win and it is really hard to win here. Today was a little bit extra difficult because the track was changing a lot,” said Edwards. “We had a restart and I went backwards in a hurry and I thought we had to really gather it up. We did that and made it up to fifth.”

Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Pocono on Sunday, June 12 (Noon ET, TNT, MRN). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

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