When NASCAR visited the hills of Pennsylvania on Sunday, the race brought issues for some but triumph for some. Dale Earnhardt Jr was one whose Sunday was a wild success, passing an otherwise dominant Brad Keselowski, whose engine was overheating due to debris on his grille, with five laps to go and went on to win the race.
Brad Keselowski had led most of the race – 95 laps out of 160, to be exact – and was fast at the beginning, with around 8 seconds between himself and the third place runner. However, a damper was placed on his great race when he picked up a piece of debris on the grille at the very end of the race. Despite valiant attempts to draft fellow competitors to try to remove the debris, he couldn’t get it done and finished in second place.
Despite Keselowski’s powerful performance, it was still an interesting race as there were many unexpected problems that appeared for many of the usual top drivers.
As soon as the green flag flew, Keselowski took the lead from pole sitter Denny Hamlin and kept it until lap 56, when he had to make a scheduled green flag pit stop.
The lead continued to change between then and lap 113. Part of it was due to pit stop cycles, but a lot of it was in part to multiple cautions, which were due to debris on track. During one pit stop, however, bad luck hit when six-time champion Jimmie Johnson made a mistake and hit Marcos Ambrose while Johnson was exiting his stall and Ambrose was entering his.
There was yet another yellow flag on lap 118 for fluid on the track and Keselowski retook the lead as he was one of the few who did not have to pit.
On lap 138, with Keselowski leading again after the pit cycles, the caution was brought out again when Danica Patrick hit the wall in turn three. The race soon went back to green, although it didn’t last long as there was an accident when Kasey Kahne got into the cars of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Kyle Busch.
The race went back to green with twelve laps to go and Keselowski held onto the lead after a great restart. But that’s when the piece of debris got stuck on his grille and his engine started to overheat. His first attempt to dislodge it came when he got onto the bumper of Danica Patrick, but he lost momentum when her car became loose. Earnhardt saw his chance to go for the pass and took the lead from Keselowski with five laps to go.
Dale Earnhardt Jr went on to take the win, with Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five.