Keselowski takes race at Bristol
Sunday, August 28, 2011
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Brad Keselowski moved a step closer to making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship by winning Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, his third victory of the season.
Keselowski has been on a tear since breaking his ankle in a crash while testing earlier this month. Since the injury, he’s won at Pocono, finished second at Watkins Glen, third at Michigan and now has the Bristol victory.
Although he’s walked gingerly in the month since the Aug. 3 accident, he hopped up and down in excitement as he climbed from the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
“An awesome car, an awesome team!” he yelled. “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.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart and Clint Bowyer began the race ranked ninth, 10th and 11th, but because none has a victory, they could get bumped out of the Chase depending on how the wild cards develop. Earnhardt wasn’t a factor Saturday night and finished 16th, Bowyer struggled the entire race and was 26th and Stewart had a miserable weekend — he qualified last in the 43-car field, was quickly lapped and finished four laps down in 28th.
It was no better for Paul Menard, who could earn a wild card spot based on his victory at Indianapolis. But he struggled, ran into the back of Denny Hamlin as they tried to avoid an accident in front of them, and wound up 30th.
At the front of the field, Martin Truex Jr. finished second and Gordon was third despite leading a race-high 206 laps. Five-time defending NASCAR champion Johnson was fourth and was followed by Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth, who led 110 laps.
Hamlin, clinging to one of the wild cards, rallied to finish seventh despite Menard running into the back of his car to cause serious damage.