The Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway came down to fuel mileage. Fuel mileage races can be a wild race because so many things can happen. Teams have to have a plan and have to use their heads to get a good finish. Fuel mileage races come down to experience.
Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe have had a flawless Chase run leading up to the Bank of America 500. They have won at Chicagoland and Dover and battled back from a tough race at New Hampshire to get a solid sixth place finish. At Talladega, Keselowski came through the mess to finish in the seventh position.
All the momentum was on Keselowski's side coming into the 500 miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway. When the race started the #2 found themselves in the 20th position on the initial start. They worked their way up through the field and after staying out during a round of pit stops Brad Keselowski found himself in the lead on lap 42. From there Keselowski would swap the lead with Jimmie Johnson several times over the next 230 laps. It appeared Keselowski and Paul Wolfe had made the perfect pit call. With 59 laps to go Wolfe wanted Keselowski to stay out to make it on one more stop. Teams were getting about 50-55 laps on a full tank of fuel. In order for Keselowski to make it on one more stop he would need to save.
On that lap though Keselowski would run out of fuel coming off of turn two. He coasted to the pits and made it to his pit stall without a major issue. The issue came though when the #2 team had a 22 second pit stop. The pit stop was long due to Keselowski's car not being able to fire. The team got the engine re-fired but it was too late. The time loss on the green flag pit stop destroyed Keselowski's chances at victory. He had to continue to save fuel to make it to the finish, and ended up in the 11th position.
Most importantly, all three drivers who were close to Keselowski in the standings gained points. Jimmie Johnson is now just seven points back in second, with Denny Hamlin 15 points back in third and Clint Bowyer 25 points back in fourth.
The inexpirence came in with 59 laps to go. Paul Wolfe has to know how much gas Keselowski had in his car. He could not let that car run out of fuel. It was almost as the #2 did not really have a plan at the end of the race. Their strategy seemed to be let it run out of gas and then come in after that.
He made his second to last pit stop on lap 222. After Keselowski saved fuel he would run out just 53 laps after that stop on lap 275. If he pitted on lap 274 Keselowski would have had to gone 60 laps on the final pit stop. He would have had to save a lot of fuel to make it.
As a points leader you can't let the car run out of gas and you can't rely on the driver to save that much fuel. While a caution would have helped Brad Keselowski and his team, an 11th place finish is something that hurt Keselowski but it didn't destroy his shot.
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