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NASCAR Chicago Results 2012: Brad Keselowski Out-Duels Jimmie Johnson

With a pass for the lead certain to stir controversy in the Hendrick Motorsports camp, Brad Keselowski won Sunday's Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Keselowski took the lead over polesitter and five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson after an exchange of green-flag pit stops, with Keselowski reentering the track one lap later than Johnson, on Lap 231, and pulling up in front of Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet off Turn 2.

Keselowski pulled away to win by 3.171 seconds over Johnson, who led a race-high 171 laps but couldn't catch Keselowski during the last green-flag run.

The victory was Keselowski's fourth of the season, his first at Chicagoland and the eighth of his career. Kasey Kahne ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman, as Keselowski took a three-point lead over second-place Johnson with nine races left in the Chase.

During the race, NASCAR looked at videotape of Keselowski's return to the track in front of Johnson and decided no action was warranted.

A caution for Casey Mears' crash into the Turn 2 wall brought out the third caution of the race on Lap 149 and interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops. Johnson, Keselowski and Kahne had not pitted before the caution, and that trio remained out front for a restart on Lap 158.

Johnson quickly opened a gap of one second on Keselowski, with Kahne trailing the leader by more than four seconds as the green-flag run progressed. When Jeff Gordon passed Ryan Newman for fourth on Lap 174, Hendrick Motorsports had three of the top four cars in the running order.

Matt Kenseth dropped back drastically during the run, and his team prepared to change a right front shock absorber, but Gordon became the first major casualty of the Chase on Lap 188, when the throttle of the No. 24 Chevrolet stuck as he entered Turn 1 and the car slammed the outside wall.

"I just let off the throttle, and it just didn't come all the way back," Gordon said as his crew tried to repair the car. "It was probably about half-throttle, which is still enough to do a lot of damage. We're looking at what the issue is right now, what could have caused it.

"We'll get back out, but in this deal you can't afford to have issues like that."

Gordon, the last driver in the Chase as the second wild card, finished 35th and, in all likelihood, fell out of the championship conversation.

Here are the full race results from today's Chicagoland Speedway race (Chase drivers in bold):

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Kasey Kahne
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Tony Stewart
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Sam Hornish Jr.
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Greg Biffle
  14. Mark Martin
  15. Paul Menard
  16. Denny Hamlin
  17. Aric Almirola
  18. Matt Kenseth
  19. Carl Edwards
  20. Trevor Bayne
  21. Jamie McMurray
  22. David Ragan
  23. Juan Pablo Montoya
  24. Jeff Burton
  25. Danica Patrick
  26. Bobby Labonte
  27. Marcos Ambrose
  28. David Gilliland
  29. Landon Cassill
  30. TJ Bell
  31. Travis Kvapil
  32. Kurt Busch
  33. Dave Blaney
  34. Regan Smith
  35. Jeff Gordon
  36. Casey Mears
  37. Cole Whitt
  38. Josh Wise
  39. David Stremme
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. Scott Speed
  42. Mike Bliss
  43. Michael McDowell