After 399 miles, a second win on the young 2014 season looked to be within reach for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Unfortunately for Junior the race in Vegas, was 400 miles. And with Brad Keselowski hot on his tail, the 88 car sputtered for just a moment, low on fuel, and the 2 speed past on his way to the victory.
“It was going to play out one of two ways: He was going to have to get in fuel conservation mode and I think I could have passed him and drove away or he was going to have to burn fuel to keep me behind him,” said Keselowski. “At that point it was just a matter of whether a yellow came out or not because it was just a ticking time bomb and it worked in our favor today.”
Junior got re-fired and settled for second.
“We figured we were a lap short, and I was lifting early and let Brad get there, and I felt like if we were good enough to hold him off, then we'd win the race. If we weren't, we would have saved enough fuel to have finished the race, at least get to the end.”
The finish on Sunday brings up the age old question that seems to come up more and more often, are fuel mile races good races?
It certainly provides for some nice drama at the end of races. Can he make it? Will X driver with a full tank be able to catch him. I mean watching a driver run 75% speed is not necessarily exciting, but watching another driver going 100% try to chase him down can provide some drama,
And like it or hate it, this new chase format may lend itself to more drivers taking that kind of gamble, When winning is everything, a chance to get that win may be worth the all or nothing roll of the dice.
“We definitely wouldn't have took that gamble had we not had the new points system, so we were able to really take advantage of that,” said Junior. “Steve is already going for broke, and he's having a fun time. It hurts to lose like that. We'd definitely love to be in victory lane right now, but our time will come. We'll keep going.”