SPARTA, Ky. -- Brad Keselowski, in extreme fuel conservation mode, seemingly coasted to the win in the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.
It was his third win at Kentucky in six races at the track, making him Kentucky's winningest driver at the Cup level, and his fourth win of the season, moving him past Kyle Busch as the season's winningest driver after 17 races.
"I don't know if I've ever had that (assistance from a tow truck to get to Victory Lane)," Keselowski said. "I don't want to have it ever again. I'd rather drive it in Victory Lane, but you take them any way you can get them, and I'm glad to be here and glad to be doing things that are fun on a Saturday night."
As most drivers headed for pit road for fuel in the final 20 laps, Keselowski slowed far off the pace. He slowed enough to give up the lead for a short time to Matt Kenseth with six laps to go. But after assuming the top spot, Kenseth went to the pits for fuel, handing the lead back over to Keselowski.
When he retook the lead, Keselowski was up by nine seconds over Carl Edwards. Keselowski's slow pace reeled Edwards closer, but Keselowski sped back up to preserve his position and the win.
"I have to give credit where credit is due," Edwards said. "He (Keselowski) did a really good job. He played it perfectly. That was really frustrating. He baited me in there. I thought he was, surely, out (of fuel) and then he just won the race. He did a good job. We had great power all night, great fuel mileage with TRD (Toyota Racing Development). Man, it's hard to swallow that one. We thought we had it, no problem. He played it perfectly."
Keselowski took the lead from Kevin Harvick on lap 200. Harvick led the most laps with 94 of his 128 coming in the first half of the race.
He wound up finishing a disappointing ninth.
Harvick lost track position during a cycle of green-flag pit stops just past the halfway point. After a yellow flag on lap 152, Martin Truex Jr. restarted with the lead.
Truex apparently beat Harvick off pit road during a the final yellow flag, a record-tying 11th caution on lap 194, but a pit road penalty pushed Truex back to 22nd put Harvick back in the lead.
The penalty did not deter Truex as he worked his way back up to the top three under green-flag conditions before pit stops in the closing stages of the race.
Harvick dominated from the outset after starting on the pole.
He first lost the top spot when Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch made up track position after starting in the back of the field by staying out during a competition caution on lap 26.
After another quick caution and restart, Harvick retook the lead, only to lose it a few laps later when Keselowski elected to stay out.
Truex took the lead from Keselowski on lap 63 and then Harvick got off pit road ahead of Truex during the next yellow flag to restart the race as the leader on lap 87.
The first half of the race was treacherous, with the yellow flag waving seven times, including a caution just before lap 100 for a multicar wreck.
"The 11 (Denny Hamlin) was pretty tight on my door, and I had the 42 (Larson) up my bumper, there, on that restart, and these cars a pretty difficult to drive when you're in that type of situation," Scott said. "I was expecting it, and when it happened. I thought I had it saved. I was just trying to gather it back up and lose the spots we were gonna lose but go on, and then, some cars barreled in pretty fast from behind and caused a pile-up."
The carnage wasn't limited to the track. A truck in the parking lot behind the main grandstand caught fire from a grill, and the fire spread to other vehicles parked nearby.
NOTES: Inclement weather resulted in the cancellation of qualifying on Friday. As a result, the race field was set by car owner points, putting Kevin Harvick on the pole and Brad Keselowski next to him on the front row. ... Jimmie Johnson went to a backup car after a practice crash on Friday. He was able to start ninth instead of going to the back at the green flag because his wreck came before the originally scheduled time for qualifying and before the starting grid was set. Kurt Busch, though, had to drop to the back in his backup car after a practice crash, as his crash came after the starting grid was set. ... Kentucky Speedway has been repaved and somewhat reconfigured, making it narrower. Banking also was added in turns one and two since NASCAR last visited the track in an official capacity in 2015. Teams tested at the track last month. ... NASCAR tested changes to the aerodynamic rules package, aimed at further decreasing downforce, during Saturday's race. ... Kyle Busch dominated and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kentucky on Friday night. He also ran in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the track on Thursday night. ... In the previous five Sprint Cup races at Kentucky Speedway, only three drivers won. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch each had two wins and Matt Kenseth one heading into Saturday night. ... Chevrolet went into this year's Quaker State 400 winless at Kentucky Speedway in Sprint Cup competition.