Keselowski scores first win of 2013

Keselowski scores first win of 2013

Cup Series

Keselowski scores first win of 2013

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Reigning champion Brad Keselowski finally scored his first win of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season in a Charlotte Motor Speedway race transformed by a late caution.

Jimmie Johnson had been on course for a dominant win in what had turned into a processional event until a debris yellow with 27 of 334 laps remaining. The five-time champion’s Hendrick teammates Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, both of whom had led stints earlier in, only took two tires at the subsequent pit stops and jumped to the front.

Johnson restarted third, but a big slide as he attacked at the restart dropped him to seventh. That allowed Johnson’s title rival Matt Kenseth and Keselowski to move into victory contention after making gradual progress up the order through the night following poor early stints.

“It was just a never-give-up night,” Keselowski said. “We had a lot of struggles tonight. We didn’t qualify well (23rd), 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 (Johnson) or the 5 (Kahne).
 
“I never got to really race them until the end and (Kahne) had two tires, so I think we were probably pretty even. When (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to take four tires, and I saw we were that close to the front, I knew we could get them.” 

As Gordon swiftly fell back, Keselowski passed Kenseth and began to attack Kahne. At first the Hendrick driver was able to sweep back in front using a wider line every time Keselowski’s Penske Ford got alongside. The battle was finally resolved with eight laps to go, and Keselowski was able to pull clearly ahead and go on to win by a second.

“I was on two (tires) and he was on four, and he could just move around a little bit better,” Kahne said. “I was trying to move around, but I was just a little bit on the tight side with the front end, then I would get loose if I got the front working.
 
“I was doing all I could and felt pretty good, but he made some nice moves and just really had some speed there late in the race and was able to get by me.” 

Kahne held off Kenseth and Johnson for second, meaning Kenseth keeps a four-point championship lead.

Kyle Busch was fifth, followed by front-row starter Kevin Harvick and Gordon.

Results - 334 laps:Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap 1.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                  3h09m53.000s 2.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet                +1.023s 3.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +1.074s 4.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet                +1.409s 5.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +3.069s 6.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet               +5.589s 7.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet                +6.427s 8.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +7.631s 9.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +7.871s10.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford                +12.637s11.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   +19.411s12.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      +26.291s13.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford                +30.284s14.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet            +1 lap15.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet                 +1 lap16.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford                  +1 lap17.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                         +1 lap18.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                       +2 laps19.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       +2 laps20.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +2 laps21.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet               +2 laps22.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                    +3 laps23.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                        +3 laps24.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet               +3 laps25.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota                    +4 laps26.  David Reutimann     BK Toyota                         +4 laps27.  Brian Scott         Childress Chevrolet               +4 laps28.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota              +5 laps29.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                    +6 laps30.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                    +6 laps31.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                      +6 laps32.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                 +7 laps33.  Landon Cassill      Circle Sport Chevrolet            +7 laps34.  Cole Whitt          Swan Toyota                       +7 laps35.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                         +8 laps36.  Timmy Hill          FAS Lane Ford                    +10 lapsRetirements:     Kyle Larson         Phoenix Chevrolet                247 laps     Blake Koch          Leavine Ford                     216 laps     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                     149 laps     Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                      83 laps     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                    81 laps     Mark Martin         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            80 laps     JJ Yeley            Baldwin Chevrolet                 23 laps

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 8 – WATKINS GLEN

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