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article imageNASCAR: Keselowski dominates race on way to fourth win of season

By John Duarte     Sep 7, 2014 in Sports
Richmond - The words “dominant performance” are bandied about regularly in the world of motorsports. But, Brad Keselowski exemplified the term in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
Keselowski became the top seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with a nearly perfect win at the Federated Auto Parts 400. Starting from the pole position, Keselowski was out in front of the field for 383 of the race total 400 laps and practically coasted across the finish line.
“WOW! That was something,” he said after the race. “It was just a phenomenal night for our team. Car was fast. Pit crew was flawless. We put all the pieces together tonight.”
The dominant fashion with which Keselowski won his fourth race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the most of any driver in 2014, sent a loud-and-clear message to the other 16 drivers who will be part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, when it begins at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14.
“I'm very proud of the result that comes from a win and what it means to the bigger picture of having the first seed entering the Chase,” Keselowski said. “Our team just really struck and hit it hard. We want to keep that going as we get through this next 10 weeks.”
Keselowski was Sprint Cup champion in 2012 and hopes to rebound with another title after a disappointing 2013 season, when he finished 17th in the standings and failed to make the Chase. He said he feels that experience has made him more confident.
“I think we're a lot stronger now personally,” Keselowski said. “I think we've been a threat to win more races. We have one more win than what we did entering the Chase in 2012. I feel stronger that what we've been.
“We're ready,” he said. “We want to run for another Cup."
Keselowski's performance was not lost on the drivers chasing him to the finish line. Race runner-up Jeff Gordon said he, along with everyone else, had very little to offer Keselowski on Saturday night.
“We were good. We just weren't quite as good as Brad,” Gordon said. “He could really get away from me and stretch it out. Then, we could pull him back in. We just didn't have enough laps.”
Gordon is chasing his fifth Sprint Cup championship.
It was a disappointing night for Clint Bowyer, who despite finishing third in the race missed out being part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup by seven points. Bowyer admitted it has been a frustrating year and the his team as a lot of work to do to compete with the current front-runners in the series.
“Right now, we're at out best. At our best, we were a third-best racecar tonight at my best track,” a downcast Bowyer said. “Coming in here, I knew it was a longshot. The boys brought in the best they could build, put a lot of effort into it. I raced as hard as I could.”
Looking ahead to the 10-race showdown for NASCAR's top-level championship is Kevin Harvick, who was the only driver to lead the Federated Auto Parts 400 other than Keselowski. Harvick said this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup will be interesting, with the starting field of 16 drivers being reduced every three races. He said it will be a true battle for survival.
“You just have to survive. Every three weeks it resets. You get to start over. Start the fight again.” said Harvick. “You need to be consistent, but you need to capitalize on winning races because that guarantees you a trip to the next round. You just have to go out and do the things you have to do, to race every week and try to qualify well, lead laps, run up front.”
The night came to a concerned end for Jimmie Johnson, who had to be treated for severe dehydration immediately after the race. The reigning Sprint Cup champion finished eighth in the race, but collapsed upon exiting his car. Johnson spent over an hour in the infield care centre, where he received five litres of intravenous fluid. Johnson was as surprised as anyone by the incident.
“I felt like I came in plenty hydrated,” he said. “I was warm at the midway point and didn't feel like My helmet fan was working. That could definitely cause an issue.”
Johnson, who had planned to take part in a triathlon Sunday morning, said he will rest and be ready to make a run for his seventh championship when the opening round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway. The NASCAR title will be disputed over the next 10 weeks, with the crowning of the champion to be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16, 2014.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, Brad Keselowski, Richmond International Raceway, chase for the Sprint cup
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