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Keselowski turns up the heat with third win

It remained Busch/Keselowski/Johnson ahead of Denny Hamlin even after the next round of green flag pit stops just before the 100 lap mark, but then Keselowski turned up the heat on Busch and on lap 119 Busch slapped the wall out of turn 2. He was able to keep going, and a debris caution a few minutes later meant that Keselowski wasn't quite able to press home his advantage just yet.

Denny Hamlin - who just prior to the race had tweeted that he had successfully sealed a contract extension deal at Joe Gibbs Racing, which hadn't been up until the end of 2013 in any case - was able to get the jump over his team mate Kyle Busch for the lead. Buch battled for second place with Johnson for a few laps but was clearly not as strong as he had been and had to settle for third ahead of Keselowski.

A blown engine for Dave Blaney on lap 150 brought out the third caution of the evening and triggered more pit stops, after which the race resumed with the top four unchanged and Martin Truex Jr. having passed Clint Bowyer for fifth just before the yellow flags. Bowyer had fallen to tenth for the restart and then been the innocent bystander when Joey Logano and Ryan Newman had made contact, which had left Bowyer on the receiving end and having to pit the #15 on lap 170 for new tyres and repairs that put him two laps down.

"Just got hit from behind and knocked in my quarter panel and made me really, really loose for a few laps," said Logano.

"He lost control in the middle of three and four," insisted Newman of the incident from his vantage point. "I got into the back of him on accident, but I mean that is part of it. He lost control in the first place, I went to go drive around the outside of him and I don't know if he was half ways blocked me or what. It just about spun him around into the #15 and I guess if the #15 wasn't there it would have."

At the front, Hamlin was still firmly in charge but as the laps remaining ticked below one hundred to go he was getting messages from pit lane to start thinking about fuel saving strategies. He was not alone. A new round of green flag pit stops commenced soon after lap 200, but then the game plan changed when Ryan Newman blew his engine and spun on lap 210, hitting the wall in turns 1 and 2.

"Just something blew up, that was the bottom end of the motor," shrugged Newman. "It was going to be a decent night, maybe not a great night points wise. Points wise maybe a good night, but not a great night for a top five. Something on the bottom end of the motor of the Tornados Chevrolet."

Regan Smith was also in the wrong place at the wrong time, hitting the oil slick laid down from the blown Chevrolet.

"I was right there with him," said Smith. "I saw it, but there is not much you can do. I went sideways as soon as I hit the oil. It was unfortunate because we had a good car. In fact, we were getting better on every run and I truly felt we had a good shot at a top ten."

Ironically, Newman's wreck proved good news for former Cup points leader Greg Biffle: having already got one of his laps back during the green flag pit stop cycle, Biffle had been the highest-placed car off the lead lap when Newman hit the wall and duly got the wave-around, enabling him to get back on the lead lap, although he would drop off again before the end and would finish in a damage limitation 21st.

Two of the former race leaders now hit problems: even before the caution, Kyle Busch had been very slow on the race track and reported that something had broken on the #18, possibly a shock absorber as a result of that earlier hit with the wall.

"We salvaged a heck of a finish for what all we had to go through," reported Busch after the race. "Definitely not any fun to drive, but had to do what we could on three pogo sticks."




Related Pictures

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Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, races Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 Tornados Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday in Sparta, Ky. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday in Sparta, Ky. (Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Regan Smith prepares to stand in for Tony Stewart at short notice at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 10 2014. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #12 Snap-On Ford, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS, captures the flag with his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 after winning Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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