Keselowski finally gets first win of 2013 season|
Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Having not qualified for this year's Chase
for the Sprint Cup championship, Brad Keselowski put an end to his frustrating
season by winning Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor
Keselowski, who claimed his first Sprint Cup Series championship last year,
snapped a 37-race winless streak after he rebounded from a pit-road mistake
early in the event and then passed Kasey Kahne for the lead in the closing
laps. It was Keselowski's 10th career victory in NASCAR's top series but his
first since September 2012 at Dover. He won five races during his title
During a round of pit stops under caution in the early going, Keselowski left
his pit stall with the tire jack still attached to his Penske Racing car. He
had to pit again, which dropped him deep in the field. Keselowski patiently
made his way through the field before the last caution came for debris with 27
laps to go. His team made a four-tire change during his final stop.
Kahne and Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, came out of the pits
first and second, respectively, after taking two tires only on their last
stops. Jimmie Johnson held the lead before pitting, but Johnson came out third
with four new tires.
Kahne and Johnson dominated throughout the race, with Kahne leading the most
laps with 138 and Johnson running in front for 130 laps.
After the final restart with 23 laps to go, Kahne pulled away from the field,
while Johnson got shuffled back to seventh. Keselowski chased down Kahne and
then grabbed the lead from him with nine laps remaining. Keselowski, who
started 23rd, became the first non-Chase driver to win a playoff race since
Kahne last did it in November 2011 at Phoenix.
"I never give up," Keselowski said. "We had a lot of struggles tonight. I
didn't qualify well (on Thursday). But we kept working our way forward. I knew
we had a good car. I'm not sure if we were as good as the 48 (Johnson) or the
Kahne tried to reclaim the top spot but finished one second behind Keselowski.
"I love hard racing, and there are a handful of guys who you can't race hard
with because they freak out, but Kasey is not one of them," Keselowski said.
"He's an excellent driver, and he ran me hard but clean. That's great racing."
Kahne's second-place run at Charlotte came after he had finished 12th, 13th,
15th and 37th in the previous four races, which dropped him to last in the
Chase point standings.
"We had a really good (car) throughout the whole race from the time it
started," Kahne said. "I wish we could have won, but this was a good race for
us, considering the last four races."
Matt Kenseth finished third and increased his championship lead from three
points to four over Johnson, who ended up placing fourth. Kenseth had been
running behind Johnson until Johnson dropped in the field after the last
"Certainly glad we're still leading (in points)," Kenseth said. "Tonight was a
big positive for us. It was a little bit of a struggle this weekend more than
we anticipated. I didn't get a good lap in qualifying, and that was really the
start of us being behind tonight.
"About our second or third adjustment, (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and our
group really hit it and really found something that I liked, and our car
started driving really good. I could pass really good, start working our way
up through the field."
Johnson was attempting to win at Charlotte for a record seventh time. He
remains in a tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for most victories at
this 1.5-mile racetrack with six each. Johnson has not won here since October
"There was that last caution, which certainly shook things up," Johnson said.
"I lost track position on that restart, which was unfortunate. Once I got
rolling and going again, I was fine. But I already had lost too much at that
Kyle Busch finished fifth, while Kevin Harvick, who won last weekend's race at
Kansas, took the sixth spot. Gordon, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Carl
Edwards completed the top-10.
Harvick is now 29 points behind Kenseth, and Gordon trails by 36 points. Busch
is 37 behind. The second-half of the 10-race Chase begins next weekend at
10/13 01:23:02 ET