Brad Keselowski held off Martin Truex Jr. on Saturday night to win the Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”244″][/media-credit]“An awesome car, an awesome team! Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won this race. It’s a race of champions. There are races that pay more, that are races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all.” Keselowski said.
This was Keselowski’s third win of the season and now sits in the 11th position, the no. 1 wild card spot, in the series standings. His three wins should be enough to secure him a spot in the “Chase”.
Keselowski also closes out the list of qualified finalists who can earn a $3 million payout in the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO™ 3D. If Keselowski can also win the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he will win $1 million for himself, $1 million for his designated charity and $1 million dollars for two lucky race fans.
Jeff Gordon finished third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Jamie McMurray finished fifth.
Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards now have clinched spots in the “Chase”.
Edwards finished ninth, but more importantly, he is in the chase.
“That was a lot of work. Lots of work for a ninth place. That is a tough race right there.” Edwards said. “We had good pit stops and good strategy and we locked into the Chase, which is huge. That’s the first mission of the season and we accomplished that and we are looking forward to Atlanta.”
Kenseth led 110 laps en route to a sixth-place finish and clinched his chase berth.
“That is great. My guys have been doing a great job this year and it feels good to clinch that spot. I wish we were running just a hair better but they did a great job.” Kenseth said.
Gordon dominated most of the race and led 206 laps but got behind during the final pit stop. He had to battle back from the fifth spot. Gordon got back to third place but was unable to make the pass on Truex Jr. for second.
“Oh, it was an incredible battle. I know that there wasn’t much of a race up there for first when Brad (Keselowski) got out there with those four tires and got clear of us, but me and Martin and Matt Kenseth and Jimmie (Johnson); we were having a heck of a battle back there. But I’m really, really proud of this race team tonight. What an awesome race car this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was. I think we made some huge improvements from the last time we were here. It felt like we had the car to beat; but you know what, we just didn’t get the position that we needed to on that last pit stop.” Gordon said.
Mark Martin’s had a strong car early on, but his night went bad on lap 360. Martin got into Brian Vickers and spun into the wall. Heavy damage sent him to the pits for extended repairs. Martin finished 38th.
On lap 413, Kyle Busch tried to make it 3-wide and came out the looser. Busch and Terry Labonte get together, causing right side damage on Busch’s car. Busch also got into the outside wall. Busch finished 14th and was not a factor in the race.
Kyle Busch and Johnson are now tied for the lead in the standings by 32 over Kenseth.
|Unofficial Race Results|
|Irwin Tools Night Race, Bristol Motor Speedway|
|2||–||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||43|
|16||–||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||28|
|25||–||71||Andy Lally *||Ford||19|