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Brad Keselowski! Looks like NASCAR has a new Super-K

Brad Keselowski! Looks like NASCAR has a new Super-K

'Bad Brad' Keselowski, victorious in Saturday night's Kentucky 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   SPARTA, Ky.
   Traffic, last summer's bugaboo here, shouldn't be a headliner this time around. And Brad Keselowski, with his third win of the season, in Saturday night's Kentucky 400, can not only celebrate in style but also start prepping for the playoffs, though the chase is still two months away.
    The first three-time winner this year, Keselowski did it the hard way, in his backup car, after that Friday run-in with Juan Pablo Montoya.
    "There's never a guarantee, but this is pretty good," Keselowski said with a nod toward the championship playoffs, beginning Sept. 16th in Chicago.
   "A long hot one, but a great day. We were in the wall on lap one of practice Friday, and this was my Martinsville car from last fall, not our newest car at all."
    Resolving the traffic madness was the day's good news. On the other hand, the crowd was clearly off from last summer's sellout for the first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup race at this track, just south of Cincinnati.

    And the action on the track, while it had its moments, was not quite as competitive as perhaps expected, for a bumpy, wornout track that has so much corner and so little straight. Whoever had the lead clearly had an advantage.


 Paul Wolfe's crew  giving Brad Keselowski quick service (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   And at the end that was Keselowski. He won going away, with Denny Hamlin fading to third, and surprising Kasey Kahne rallying to second after a loose wheel dropped him far behind.
    Several drivers were troubled by bad finishes.
    Tony Stewart had major trouble with his electronic fuel injection system, for the second time this season, and he wound up an angry 32nd.
    Greg Biffle had a flat tire late, which dropped him to 21st.
    Kyle Busch, who dominated the first half of the three-hour race on this very bumpy, mostly corner 1-1/2-mile track, slapped the wall and never really recovered, despite repairs. He finished 10th.
    Most upset, perhaps, was Carl Edwards. "I'm definitely frustrated," Edwards said after fuel mileage forced him to pit with five laps to go while running third, leaving him 20th at the end.
    Edwards hasn't won since Las Vegas more than a year ago, and while teammates Biffle and Matt Kenseth have been atop the points and running strong all season, Edwards and his team have seem oddly erratic.
    So it was an emotional Edwards afterwards: "I've heard all the talk -- about it's this or it's that or it's that....but we're just having some bad communication. I've got the best crew chief in the business; Bob Osborne proved that last fall. We just got beat for the championship on that crazy call by Darian (Grubb at Homestead).
    "We've got to get going."

   Not sure who did what to whom for these three to get like this. Joey Logano (20) aggravated Ryan Newman (39) in the deal, and then nearly took out Clint Bowyer (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Denny Hamlin was one of the strongest in the field after teammate Busch slapped the wall. But Hamlin down the stretch was backing "way off" to save fuel, and then when he ended the race he discovered he had a flat tire.
     Still Hamlin, who announced Saturday that he had signed a contract extension with team owner Joe Gibbs (more than a year ahead of the expiration date), was glad to get a good finish after a run of bad luck the past few weeks.
   Jeff Gordon, calling this "one of my worst tracks," insisted he was satisfied with his fifth place finish...even though he's so far down in the standings that he needs several wins to make the playoffs, because he's facing an almost impossible journey to make it back to the top-10 by September.

   Brad Keselowski going around Denny Hamlin on the outside for the lead late in the Kentucky 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Keselowski may have been fired up after that deal with Montoya. "I don't like to get pushed around," Keselowski said. "I felt I was being 'pushed around,' and I hate that. I won't be pushed around.

   "I tried to talk with him, but he didn't want to talk."

   That wasn't the only incident between two drivers this weekend. During the 400 Ryan Newman and Joey Logano got into it, while battling in a three-wide back in the pack.

    "I'm not really sure what's going on with that boy," Newman complained. "He's got a few things to learn...and I'm going to have to be the one who teaches him.

   "He lost control in the middle of the three and four; I got into the back of him on accident, but I mean that's part of it. He lost control in the first place.

    "I went to go drive around the outside of him...and I don't know if he was halfways blocking me or what. It just about spun him around into Clint Bowyer.

   "Then he raced me really porly, lack of respectd. That doesn't go very far with me; you can see from my past I react to that."


    Edwards was wearing UPS colors for the race, and hosting UPS executives, in what looked like a major sponsorship bid to get UPS to return to the NASCAR tour.
    "Bob called me onto pit road," Edwards said, referring to key pit stop he didn't make. "But I was already so far around that corner that I just didn't feel right cutting across traffic and slamming the splitter down to make it to pit road.
   "We were put in a box. We hoped there would be a caution but there wasn't.
    "It is time for us to get it in gear. I am real frustrated, Bob is real frustrated, and I know we can do this. We ran as well as any Ford out here. At the end I think with some fuel we would have had a chance to win it.
     "We need to get this in gear. We need to go.”

  For Brad Keselowski and team owner Roger Penske: victory number three of the season (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Last Fall?

I know Carl was trying to make a statement to defuse talk about "what's wrong", but there is some truth to this team being distracted. They're still talking about last year internally no doubt and Carl just openly mentioned it. They need to get focused. Lack of focus is what causes miscommunication

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