Saturday, April 21, 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
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 10 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Updated: 11 hours ago
LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

The Cavaliers, with an assist from a New York-based designer, made their first big play Friday night just by entering the arena. As they paraded into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before Game 3 of their playoff series with the Pacers, the C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Published: 04/20/18