After all was said and done at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, a fuel strategy decision by 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s crew left the driver of the #2 car with his first victory of the 2014 season and poised to take a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Dale Earnhardt Jr. came up just half a lap short on gas to be able to take his second victory of the season, but still emerged from the race with second place and became only the fifth driver since 1972 to start a season with three consecutive top-two finishes. Three of the previous four went on to win the series championship, most recent being Jimmie Johnson during the 2006 season.
Several drivers led laps early in the event, including pole sitter Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, before Keselowski took the lead over at lap 157. Harvick looked to have a strong car and a shot for the win before a mechanical issue forced him to finish in the 41st position. Afterwards it became a battle between Keselowski and Earnhardt Jr. to see who would have the most fuel and the lead at the end of the race. Earnhardt’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, informed his driver that they would most likely be about a half lap short on gas and to keep saving gas. Already low on gas and feeling the pressure from Keselowski, Earnhardt began having to run his car harder to maintain the lead. All looked to be going well for the early season points leader until he began to slow exiting turn two on the final lap, allowing Keselowski to slip by and into the race lead. Earnhardt still had enough gas left to finish in second over Paul Menard, with Logano and Carl Edwards rounding out the top five.