Brad Keselowski wins the 54th Annual Bank of America 500 this evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving the #2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion. This is Keselowski’s first victory of the 2013 season and is his 10th victory in 156 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
“I just feel there are a ton of bricks that fell off my shoulders,” Keselowski said after his first career victory at the 1.5 mile oval in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and his first victory since winning the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship title. “You stand a little taller. I’m really proud of this one.”
“I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys you can’t race hard with in this deal because they freak out,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “Kasey’s (Kahne) not one of them, he’s an excellent driver and he ran me hard but he ran me clean and that’s great racing and I’m proud to race with him (Kahne) and he deserves a lot of credit for it.”
Keselowski, overcame an early penalty when on Lap 84, he left pit road with his jack stuck underneath the skirting of his car. Much of this season has been a struggle for Keselowski who has had a multitude of problems to ruin his chance to defend his Sprint Cup Champion title as he failed to qualify for the Chase.
But Keselowski rebounded and ended the Hendrick dominance when he was able to overpower Kahne in the closing laps after the final restart of the evening, not once but twice. Keselowski overpowered Kahne going into Turn 3 momentarily before Kahne resurged and passed the #2 Miller Lite Ford after getting a run coming out of Turn 4.
Keselowski and Kahne battled for another two laps before Keselowski was able to pass Kahne successfully for the final time coming out of Turn 2. Keselowski led 11 of the 334 laps, after starting the night in 23rd.
“I actually had a great car all night. We were on two tires and he (Keselowski) was on four. I tried everything to keep him behind me,” Kahne said. “He was able to get in front but I grabbed the lead right back. But when he got out in front of me again, I think his four tires were the difference. But I had a lot of fun racing there at the end and I’m pretty happy with second.”
With Keselowski leading the pack to the white flag, championship contenders, Kahne, who finished second, led the most laps of the evening 138 of 334, followed by the points leader Matt Kenseth in third, Jimmie Johnson, who led 130 of 334, finished fourth, and Kyle Busch was the fifth place finisher.
Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards finish out the top ten for the Bank of America 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. marked a milestone with tonight’s race being his 500th career start; it was 14 years ago when Earnhardt Jr. made his debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After leading 19 of the 334 laps Earnhardt Jr. finished 15th, one lap down.
“The car just got really, really tight,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Something in the setup moved. The car was real quick at the start of the race, and I was real happy with the speed. I thought we had a top five car, and I don’t know what happened. It just would not turn at all the last half of the race pretty much. We just have to figure out what’s going on. We’ll figure it out when we get to the shop on Monday.”
The next Sprint Cup Series race is at Talladega Super Speedway on Sunday, October 20 for the Camping World RV Sales 500, with coverage on ESPN starting at 1:00 pm eastern time.