Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Brad Keselowski seizes Chase lead with fifth victory of season

. fast facts

Sprint Cup points

With seven races left in the Chase for the Championship, only these drivers are eligible to win the title:

Driver Pts.Back

B. Keselowski 2,142—

J. Johnson 2,137 5

Denny Hamlin 2,126 16

Clint Bowyer 2,117 25

Tony Stewart 2,110 32

Kasey Kahne 2,110 32

D. Earnhardt Jr. 2,103 39

Martin Truex 2,100 42

Kevin Harvick 2,096 46

Jeff Gordon 2,094 48

Greg Biffle 2,091 51

Matt Kenseth 2,070 72

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official points today.

DOVER, Del. — Brad Kese­lowski had fuel to spare for a couple of victory burnouts. Those few splashes of gas left down the stretch were just enough for a checkered flag and a sign Keselowski is a championship favorite.

With other contenders battling fuel woes and limping toward pit road, Keselowski had enough gas in the No. 2 Dodge to win the AAA 400 on Sunday at Dover International Speedway, his second victory in three weeks.

Keselowski's stout start to the Chase for the Championship allowed him to swipe the points lead from Jimmie Johnson. Kese­lowski holds a five-point lead over Johnson as the Chase shifts to Talladega. Keselowski, who won the Chase opener at Chicago­land, has avoided the famed "big ones" that strike the Alabama track to win twice there in seven career starts.

On Sunday, he held off a late push from runnerup Jeff Gordon to match Denny Hamlin for the season victory lead with five.

"I can't state loudly enough how much longer this battle is," Keselowski said.

Keselowski, Johnson and Hamlin have staked their claim through the first three of 10 Chase races as the drivers to beat.

Johnson and Hamlin each led a chunk of laps on the mile concrete oval but failed to stretch their fuel to the end. Johnson, who has seven career wins at Dover, was ordered to back off the gas and salvaged a fourth-place finish. Hamlin pitted with 10 laps left and finished eighth after starting from the pole.

"They're not going to beat us on the track, that's just plain and simple," Hamlin said. "We're just too fast right now, and I feel like everything is going well. These strategy games, and the way these cautions are falling, it's ill-timed."

There was a caution at the end of a cycle of green-flag pit stops only 69 laps into the race that quickly dropped a lot of drivers a lap back. Most of the field couldn't ever get that lap back, and only six drivers finished on the lead lap.

"By no means do I feel like we're the favorite," Keselowski said. "Certainly, we're not the underdog."

Keselowski joked he had about another "100 miles" of racing left in his tank.

While crew chief Paul Wolfe didn't want to reveal too much of his fuel-saving strategy, he conceded the car was "within a lap or two" or running on fumes. Keselowski raced the last 89 laps without a stop.

"There's always some risk in calls like that," Wolfe said. "… I felt like we were as good as anybody on mileage."

Johnson had his record eighth win at Dover in sight until he was forced to start saving fuel with about 15 laps left. Crew chief Chad Knaus told Johnson to yield the lead so the No. 48 could salvage a top-five.

"I wish we could have raced for it," Johnson said. "We finally got control of the race late. But it just didn't unfold like a normal race here."

NHRA: Antron Brown raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season, winning the Midwest Nationals in Madison, Ill., to increase his championship points lead over Spencer Massey to 21 points with three races left in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won their classifications.

EAST BAY RACEWAY: Jack Nosbisch Jr. captured the Late Model race Saturday. Other winners: Jamie Frankland (Old Time Mods), Marco Reyes (V8 Warriors) and John Moore (4 Cylinder Bombers).

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFL’s investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winston’s last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

Former Mitchell High player Nathan Smith taken in NHL draft by Jets

It's rare to see an NHL draft pick with Tampa Bay ties, but the Jets used a third-round pick Saturday on center Nathan Smith, 19, who played for Mitchell High School in Trinity and most recently for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL.Smith was ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Report: Lightning to talk to John Tavares during free-agent courting period

Despite limited salary-cap room, the Lightning is among at least five teams expected to talk with Islanders All-Star center John Tavares, who can be a free agent July 1, when the courting period begins Sunday, ESPN reported.Tavares also is expected t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Another small, quick forward headlines Lightning’s draft picks

Even without a first-round pick, the Lightning wrapped up its draft with seven picks Saturday, starting with Gabriel Fortier, an undersized 18-year-old forward from Quebec in the second round."They were guys that we really wanted," Lightning director...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

Tampa Bay Tech wins Battle of the Bay 7-on-7 tournament

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Tech lost some significant players from an offense that averaged more than 40 points per game last season.The biggest departures were in the passing game. Mike Penix, the Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay offensive player of the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago