GEICO 400 2012 Results: Reaction, Leaders and Post-Race Analysis

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent ISeptember 16, 2012

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, greets fans during driver introductions prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Brad Keselowski made the first major statement in the 2012 Chase for the Cup by taking the checkered flag at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland tri-oval speedway on Sunday. 

With the win in the first Chase playoff race, Keselowski jumps into first place with a three-point lead over five-time champ Jimmie Johnson, who finished second in this race. 

Keselowski had a strong car all day, but for the majority of this race, he was chasing pole-sitter Johnson. Johnson led the most laps in this race, but in the final laps, it was clear he didn't have the horses to catch Keselowski.

Keselowski was flowing through lapped traffic with ease, and he actually increased his lead and won by over three seconds. This is the first time Keselowski has ever had the NASCAR points lead.

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin busted his tail all year to enter the Chase with the points lead, and he saw it all come undone on the last lap.

Hamlin was running ninth, and he ran out of gas on the last lap to wind up finishing 16th. Those are a lot of crucial points to drop on the last lap. He is now in fourth, 15 points behind Keselowski. This is in no way an insurmountable lead, but it was certainly a frustrating finish. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an action-packed afternoon. After having to drop a new engine in his car, the No. 88 team was forced to start in the back after qualifying for fourth. 

He then battled his way to the top 10, fell back down and battled his way back and wound up with a solid eighth-place finish. 

Jeff Gordon had a long day, and while he is not out of the Chase after just one race, it will be a tall task for him to get back into contention. He struggled with mechanical issues that included his throttle sticking. 


Geico 400 Results

Check out the full results here.

Pos. Driver Car Manufacturer 
1 Brad Keselowski 2 Dodge
2 Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet
3 Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet
4 Kyle Busch 18 Toyota
5 Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet
6 Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet
7 Joey Logano 20 Toyota
8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 88 Chevrolet
9 Martin Truex Jr. 56 Toyota
10 Clint Bowyer 15 Toyota
11 Sam Hornish, Jr. 22 Dodge
12 Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet
13 Greg Biffle 16 Ford
14 Mark Martin 55 Toyota
15 Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet
16 Denny Hamlin 11 Toyota
17 Aric Almirola 43 Ford
18 Matt Kenseth 17 Ford
19 Carl Edwards 99 Ford
20 Trevor Bayne 21 Ford



Chase for the Cup Standings

Pos. Driver Trailing
1 Brad Keselowski ---
2 Jimmie Johnson -3
3 Tony Stewart -8
4 Denny Hamlin -15
5 Kasey Kahne -15
6 Clint Bowyer -15
7 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -17
8 Greg Biffle -19
9 Martin Truex, Jr. -21
10 Kevin Harvick -24
11 Matt Kenseth -26
12 Jeff Gordon -47