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Brad Keselowski overcomes testing injury to win Pocono 500

Brad Keselowski, Penske Dodge, 2011Brad Keselowski claimed his second Sprint Cup win of the season at Pocono, making a strong bid to become a Chase contender in the process.

The Penske driver drove through the pain of an ankle injury sustained in a testing crash last Wednesday at Road Atlanta, to hold off a charging Kyle Busch in the closing laps of Sunday's rain-affected event at Pocono.

Keselowski and his team-mate Kurt Busch got in position to fight for victory in the closing stages of the race right before rain arrived past the halfway mark of the event.

When the caution waved the Penske duo pitted, giving up track position but betting on the race being restarted.

Following an hour and 40 minutes of stoppage racing finally resumed under the fourth caution, allowing Keselowski and Busch to see their gamble pay off as the leaders pitted before the green flag waved once again.

However it was only until the final round of pitstops cycled that Keselowski got his challenge on a head of steam. Running second at the time the final caution waved for an incident between Earnhardt Ganassi's Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne, he restarted on the outside of Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch, who was leading the race.

As the green waved with 16 laps remaining, Keselowski was able to jump in the lead as Busch had to fend off an attack from Hendrick Motorsport's Jimmie Johnson. From then on it was a battle of two as the younger of the Busch siblings tried to regain the lead.

The gap between the pair was never bigger than sixth tenths of a second and Busch tried every line possible out of the crucial final turn to try to close on Keselowski. However the current Nationwide Series champion didn't put a foot wrong and went on to claim his second victory of 2011, the third of his Cup career.

His win puts him in a strong position to claim one of the wildcard entries available for the Chase this year, as he is the only driver between 10th and 20th in points with two victories to his name.

"I know it just hurt," said Keselowski after racing to victory despite an avulsion fracture to his left ankle. "It felt a lot better when I went through that checkered flag and until I got back out of the car, that didn't feel a lot better.

"It all worked out today and I'm thankful I have good people that help me though it. We had a great strategy today. Strategy didn't win us the race but it gave us the opportunity to win it and we were able to win on our own merits."

While trying everything possible to beat Keselowski, Kyle Busch came out sideways of the final turn of the race, the same where he spun on lap 14 causing the first caution of the day.

He finished second twice during the day as he was runner up earlier in a trucks race to Kevin Harvick.

If the battle for victory was intense, right behind things got hot in the fight for third place on the final lap between Keselowski's team-mate and Johnson. The pair banged fenders a couple of times at the exit of Turn 1 and Busch finally came out with the longest end of the stick. The pair exchanged some harsh words on pit road after the finish.

Behind Johnson, Newman rounded out the top five, his Hendrick team-mate Jeff Gordon was sixth, while Carl Edwards was seventh and continues to lead the driver standings. Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard completed the top 10.

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers were all leaders at various times, Denny Hamlin getting the point for the most laps led - all of them in the first half of the distance - but then succumbed to a delayed last stop under the final caution.

His team-mate Joey Logano was leading the race when the rain arrived after gambling on a two-tyre stop before the weather halted the race, as most took a full new set of Goodyears. However he would only finish 26, the last car on the lead lap, folllowing a late stop for tyres due to a suspected puncture.

Results - 200 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                 3h37m35.000s
 2.  Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                     + 0.791s
 3.  Kurt Busch          Penske Dodge                     + 4.508s
 4.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet               + 4.624s
 5.  Ryan Newman         Stewart Haas Chevrolet           + 5.744s
 6.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet               + 5.949s
 7.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford                + 6.344s
 8.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford                + 8.370s
 9.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet              + 10.008s
10.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet             + 10.546s
11.  Tony Stewart        Stewart Haas Chevrolet          + 11.328s
12.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                  + 11.999s
13.  Mark Martin         Hendrick Chevrolet              + 12.419s
14.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet             + 13.412s
15.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                    + 13.757s
16.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford               + 14.990s
17.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet             + 15.281s
18.  Clint Bowyer        Childress Chevrolet             + 16.642s
19.  AJ Allmendinger     Petty Ford                      + 16.967s
20.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                      + 17.400s
21.  Regan Smith         Furniture Row Chevrolet         + 18.901s
22.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet     + 20.616s
23.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                  + 21.013s
24.  David Reutimann     Waltrip Toyota                  + 21.886s
25.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota            + 22.679s
26.  Joey Logano         Gibbs Toyota                    + 43.202s
27.  Landon Cassill      Phoenix Chevrolet                 + 1 lap
28.  Kasey Kahne         Red Bull Toyota                   + 1 lap
29.  Andy Lally          TRG Chevrolet                     + 1 lap
30.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                + 2 laps
31.  Travis Kvapil       Front Row Ford                   + 2 laps
32.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      + 2 laps
33.  Jason White         FAS Lane Ford                    + 3 laps
34.  David Ragan         Roush Fenway Ford               + 51 laps

Retirements:

     Robby Gordon        Gordon Dodge                      79 laps
     Casey Mears         Germain Toyota                    30 laps
     Todd Bodine         HP Toyota                         25 laps
     David Stremme       Inception Chevrolet               18 laps
     Brian Vickers       Red Bull Toyota                   18 laps
     Scott Speed         Max Q Ford                        16 laps
     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                      14 laps
     Erik Darnell        Whitney Chevrolet                  8 laps
     JJ Yeley            Front Row Ford                     7 laps
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