Sometimes a bad start to the weekend can end up with good results. That was certainly the case at the Kentucky Speedway for Brad Keselowski.
Electing to run triple-duty, and after competing in both the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series events, Keselowski knew his run at a Cup victory would be tough. His primary car was wrecked in the first practice session, forcing the team to unload the backup for the remainder of the weekend. Then, just after the command to fire engines was given, Keselowski stayed on pit road.
Of all things, his steering wheel wasn't fitting properly on the column, and the team had to run to the hauler to get a backup.
But even then, he didn't give up and quickly found himself at the front. As the laps wound down, the focus became saving fuel, and when it comes to saving fuel, right now no one is better than the driver of the Miller Lite Dodge. Keselowski managed to save just enough to capture the checkered flag ahead of a charging Kasey Kahne, marking his third win of the season and all but locking up a spot in the Chase.
The win also meant the points leader in the pool also secured yet another win on the season, while everyone else either faired very well, ran mediocre, or suffered some bad luck and finished poorly.
Here's a gander at where everyone stands after Saturday night's Quaker State 400:
Billy Fellin (621) Brad Keselowski WON (3)
Sal Sigala Jr. (598) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (1)
James Broomhead (572) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (2)
Christopher Leone (569) Martin Truex Jr. finished 8th (1)
Misan Akuya (567) Tony Stewart finished 32nd (1)
Kelly Crandall (560) Tony Stewart finished 32nd (2)
Kara Martin (547) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (1)
Rob Tiongson (539) Clint Bowyer finished 16th (3)
Dustin Parks (536) Carl Edwards finished 20th (1)
Ryan O'Hara (523) Jimmie Johnson finished 6th (1)
Patti Rodisch (522) Greg Biffle finished 21st (2)
Michael Hirshbein (503) Kyle Busch finished 10th (1)
Next Race: In a way, next week's race is full-circle for the sport. Or in this case, it's more of a half circle...or a halfway point. Next weekend marks the first time that NASCAR visits a track it has already seen once on the season. This means notes from one race can be used to bettter a car for another run at victory.
But it also means rule changes. Shorter spoilers, lower bumpers, grille openings moved around, and cooling systems under more pressure all mean one thing...restrictor plates. For the third time in 2012, NASCAR puts the plates on the cars as NASCAR descends on the Daytona International Speedway for a big-scale, Saturday night shootout.
It's a mark of summer, and the wild-card event over the next four months, with so much out of the hands of the drivers.
Writers, this is going to be a tough week of choosing. But, by Thursday, July 5, at 10 p.m. ET, your choices will be due for the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola.