Brad Keselowski raced to an impressive victory in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, outdueling five-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.
Keselowski led after a crucial pit cycle with about 35 laps remaining in the 400-mile race, and held on comfortably from there for his first victory in a Chase race. He also takes over the points lead.
Kasey Kahne was third. All 12 of the Chase drivers finished in the top 18, with the exception of Jeff Gordon, who went into the wall with about 80 laps remaining. Gordon barely qualified for the Chase to begin with, and his championship hopes are already in serious jeopardy.
It's Keselowski's fourth victory of the season. He leads Johnson by three points.
Local Notes: Emporia's Clint Bowyer had a tough day on the track, but battled to get into the top 10, finishing 10th. He remains sixth in the points standings.
"It just wasn't a good day," said Bowyer. "I don't know whether it was strategy or pit stops or what, but it seemed like we lost spots on pit road all day and it just cost us. You ain't going to win a championship with decent days -- you have to have good days."
The race winning move for Keselowski:
Keselowski talks about his win at Chicagoland: