Last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Brad Keselowski, grabs his first victory of the 2013 season tonight in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Keselowski’s win marks the first time since Kasey Kahne won at Phoenix International Raceway in 2011 that a non-Chase contender has been to victory lane during the postseason.
In victory lane, Keselowski said, “It was just a never-give-up night. We had a lot of struggles tonight. We didn’t qualify well, but we kept working our way forward. I knew we had a good car. I’m not sure we were as good as the 48 or the 5. I never got to really race them until the end and they had two tires, so I think we were probably pretty even. When Paul made the call to take four tires and I saw we were that close to the front, I knew we could get them.”
During the final laps of the race Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne raced hard and battled for the victory.
When asked about racing Kasey, Brad said, “I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys you can’t race hard with in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey is not one of them. He’s an excellent driver and he ran me hard, but he ran me clean and that’s great racing. I’m proud to race with him. He did a hell of a job and deserves a lot of credit for it, but, at the end of the day, the Miller Lite Ford Fushion was just fast and we persevered.”
Driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, ended the night with a second place finish. This makes Kahne’s 12th top-10 finish in twenty races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and his 12th top-10 finish in 2013. After leading 138 laps during the race and finishing in second place, Kahne ends the night thirteenth in the points for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, eighty-one points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
After starting the Bank of America 500 in 20th position, Chase leader Matt Kenseth, had a respectable night working through the field, ending the night with a third place finish. Kenseth now has a four point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship over driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson.
In the media center after the race, Kenseth commented on his thoughts about the night and being the Chase points leader halfway through the Chase. He said, “Yeah, I mean, you want to be the points leader after the second half is the most important. But yeah, certainly glad we’re still leading. 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 qualifying, and that was really the start of us being behind tonight.”
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson, further closed the gap between him and Matt Kenseth tonight in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Johnson led 130 laps and after a rocky restart during the last caution of the race, he posted a fourth place finish.
When asked about the final restart and what happened to make him drop back, Johnson said, “Down in (turns) one and two just in the dirty air I pushed the No. 5 off into (turn) one. He didn’t get the best restart and something to do with that combo got me off the bottom and a couple of cars got into the side of me. If we could have come out second which was really close with the No. 24 and start on the front row I think it would have been a much different result for us, but it didn’t happen. We led some laps tonight, had a good car. I’m not sure what happened in the points, but I know it’s awfully tight up there right now.”
After winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last night, driver of the No. 18 M & M’s Toyota, Kyle Busch, came up short tonight in the Bank of America 500. Hoping to win his first Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch posted a fifth place finish.
When asked what it is that is keeping him from winning races, Busch said, “I think it’s everything. There at the end, I’m sure if Jimmie (Johnson) would have taken two (tires) he would have stormed off and kicked everybody’s butt. They took four, they gambled on the soft side and it bit them a little bit tonight. They lost a point to the 20 (Matt Kenseth), but they were good enough to win. So, they have something to hang their hat on—we don’t.”
Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top ten with sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth places, respectively.
With five races to go in the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the next race will be the Camping World RV Sales 500 next week at Talladega Superspeedway.