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Published on August 30th, 2011 | by Shannon Baxter

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Irwin Tools Night Race Review: Keselowski Belongs

Brad Keselowski has come a long way since he first signed with Penske Racing in 2010.  Critics were skeptical of Keselowski leaving the Nationwide Series.  They didn’t think he was ready to compete at the Sprint Cup level.  A little over a year later, Keselowski just took home his fourth career victory and is now a Cup championship contender.

Keselowski took the lead on the last restart with 80 laps to go, holding off Martin Truex Jr and Jeff Gordon for the win.  Since injuring his ankle at a Road Atlanta test crash at the beginning of August, he has finished first at Pocono, second at Watkins Glen, third at Michigan, and first at Bristol.

He has climbed from 23rd to 11th in the point’s standings over the last five races and currently sits in the top wild card spot.  He is a virtual lock for the Chase with two races to go and three victories. Don’t be surprised if at Richmond International Raceway he cracks the Top 10 in points.  If he were to make the Chase by virtue of points, that would open the wild card up to drivers like Paul Menard, David Ragan, Marcos Ambrose or Regan Smith.

Truex Has A Good Run

Martin Truex Jr hasn’t been a driver talked about much this season, but he definitely gave us something to talk about Saturday night.  Truex took two tires on his last pit stop, putting him in second place.  He had a hard battle with Jeff Gordon over the last 20-laps, but he was able to hold off the four-time champion to finish in second position.

“We’ve had a real up-and-down season,” Truex said. “We’ve had some bright spots; we’ve had some really tough days. So it’s really nice to come here and have a good finish.”  Chad Johnson took over crew chief duties for the No. 56 team in June and we are slowly but surely seeing the results from it.

Gordon Wants NASCAR To Fix Pit Road Advantage

Jeff Gordon may have been happy with his third place finish, but he certainly wasn’t happy with the way some drivers were speeding down pit road.   Some drivers would speed entering and exiting their pit box, and then slow back down to pit road speed right before the scoring timer.  Although this isn’t considered a penalty, Gordon found that it was an unfair advantage for position.

“It’s a joke,” he said, “that somebody can leave pit road and run that fast down pit road and then slam on the brakes. Kenseth drove by four cars and so did the 2 car when he left his pit stall. I just don’t understand it.”  Director of the Sprint Cup Series, John Darby, said that NASCAR will address the situation and install more scoring loops on pit road.

Johnson, Busch Tied For Points Lead

Kyle Busch remains the point’s leader, tied with Jimmie Johnson, who is in second position based on his number of wins this season.  Kevin Harvick dropped two spots to fifth, putting Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards in third and fourth position, respectively.  Gordon, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Stewart round out the Top 10.

We head to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend where the Sprint Summer Showdown will conclude.  The showdown drivers consist of Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose.  If one of them were to win the race, the driver, his charity of choice, and one lucky fan will each recieve $1 million.  The two fans that picked Keselowski to win at Pocono and Bristol will split the $1 million.  Tune into the race September 4th to see who comes out on top!

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