Brad Keselowski takes his third win of NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Bristol

Brad Keselowski took his recent impressive streak a step further by claiming his third victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season on Saturday night at Bristol

Brad Keselowski takes his third win of NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Bristol

The 27-year-old was a top-five contender all night long and led the race at seven different times, initially thanks to staying out while the leaders pitted under the first caution. He would remain a threat from then on but never looked quite as dominant as both Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth did, the Hendrick driver leading the most laps while his Roush rival was up front for 110 of the 550 laps scheduled.

However Keselowski really surged when the green waved for the last time after a quick four-tyre stop placed him on the front row for the final restart. He quickly disposed of Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex, who had gambled on a two-tyre stop, and as the battle for second got tighter behind him, Keselowski was able to pull away to take his first Cup win at Bristol - a result he found very meaningful.

"The night race at Bristol! This is the race that Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won, it's the race of champions. I can't believe it," said a stunned Keselowski. "There are races that pay more. There are races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all. We won it!"

Less than four weeks ago it was uncertain whether the Penske racer could complete the distance at Pocono following a testing crash at Road Atlanta, but since then Keselowski has been either first, second or third in every race, and has the best Cup finishing record for that period.

He is also now within reach of securing a Chase spot through being in the top 10 in the points, as he has jumped to 11th in the standings, only 21 points behind two-time champion Stewart, whose chances of making the play-off continue to dwindle every week. Keselowski also continues to be the leading wildcard entry to the Chase and has all but clinched a place in the play-off.

Behind Keselowski, Truex was able to hold off a charging Gordon as his tyre gamble paid off. The four-time Cup champion was probably the fastest during the night but better pitstops from rivals seemed to hamper his chances of claiming his third win of the season.

"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 pitstop," said Gordon. "Our pit crew was awesome. Pit road is an interesting place here. We fought hard. That was just a great battle; a lot of fun racing, but just didn't quite have it there at the end."

Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson also led laps and was a top-five contender, beating Earnhardt Ganassi's impressive Jamie McMurray to fifth in the end, ahead of Kenseth. Both Johnson and Kenseth secured Chase spots with their finishes, as did Kenseth's team-mate Edwards with his ninth place at the flag.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin recovered from a spin to finish seventh, also moving up one spot in the points while provisionally hanging on to the final wildcard entry into the Chase only two weeks before the cut-off. Polesitter Ryan Newman was eighth while his Stewart Haas team-mate Stewart had a lacklustre night, finishing three laps down in 28th.

Australian Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top 10 for Richard Petty Motorsports in yet another good run at the half-mile concrete oval.

Points leader Kyle Busch finished 14th, recovering from contact after hitting the wall 85 laps from the end while fighting for position with Truex. His brother Kurt, also a Bristol specialist, was 17th after two pit road penalties hampered his efforts.

Results - 500 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge 2h45m16.000s 2. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 0.951s 3. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.014s 4. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 2.382s 5. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 2.822s 6. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 2.931s 7. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 7.773s 8. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet + 8.651s 9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 8.822s 10. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 9.049s 11. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota + 9.235s 12. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford + 9.795s 13. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 10.305s 14. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 12.208s 15. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 13.410s 16. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 13.958s 17. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge + 15.568s 18. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 15.593s 19. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 16.597s 20. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford + 16.789s 21. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota + 1 lap 22. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 1 lap 23. Casey Mears Germain Toyota + 1 lap 24. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 2 laps 25. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet + 2 laps 26. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet + 2 laps 27. David Starr Leavine Ford + 3 laps 28. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet + 3 laps 29. Mike Bliss Phoenix Chevrolet + 3 laps 30. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 4 laps 31. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 4 laps 32. David Stremme Inception Chevrolet + 6 laps 33. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford + 6 laps Retirements: Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 471 laps Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 457 laps David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 430 laps* Travis Kvapil Front Row Ford 371 laps* Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet 363 laps Michael McDowell HP Toyota 49 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 42 laps Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 28 laps Scott Speed Whitney Ford 28 laps Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 10 laps * Running again at finish 
shares
comments
Kyle Busch sets Nationwide win record with 50th series triumph at Bristol
Previous article

Kyle Busch sets Nationwide win record with 50th series triumph at Bristol

Next article

Dale Earnhardt Jr has signed with Hendrick until 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr has signed with Hendrick until 2017
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021