Keselowski Breaks His Bad Luck Streak
CONCORD, N.C. – Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski put an end to his dismal 2013 season but scoring his first victory of the year during the Bank of America 500 Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In a race that was dominated by Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, Keselowski still had to overcome more of the demons that has plagued him and his Penske Racing team this season in order to battle for the victory.
The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was running eighth when he came down pit road for service under caution on lap 88. The pit stop went well, but when Keselowski left the pit box he brought the jack with him.
Keselowski made a full lap with the jack stuck under his Ford before returning to pit road to drop off his hitchhiker. He would restart at the rear of the field as a result.
For much of the race Keselowski worked to regain his lost track position, slowly working his way through the field while Kahne and Johnson took turns at the front of the pack. Eventually Keselowski worked his way back into the top 10, but he still had work to do if he was going to catch the leaders.
The lucky break Keselowski needed came on lap 307 when the caution flag waved for debris on the backstretch. Johnson, who had built a hefty lead by the time the caution flag waved, led the field down pit road for service.
Kahne and polesitter Jeff Gordon opted to take two tires during their pit stops, allowing them to get off pit road first. Johnson came off pit road in third, while Keselowski was scored in the sixth position for the upcoming restart.
When the green flag waved Kahne was able to get a solid jump on the field and claim the top spot from Gordon, but it was the action behind them that caught the attention of the crowd. Johnson washed up the track in the middle of turns one and two and began to slip through the field, opening the door for Keselowski to blast by him on the outside.
With 21 laps left in the 334-lap race Keselowski had raced his way to third behind Kahne and championship leader Matt Kenseth. With 18 laps left Keselowski was able to overtaken Kenseth and set his sights on Kahne.
It took Keselowski six laps to catch Kahne and begin challenging for the lead. Keselowski was able to get alongside Kahne coming down the backstretch and cleared him in turn three, but Kahne used a crossover move to take the lead back coming out of turn four.
Keselowski didn’t give up and took another shot with nine laps left, moving below Kahne in turns one and two. He was able to make the pass stick this time as Kahne failed to get back alongside him in turn three.
Kahne tried to get the lead back one lap later, getting alongside Keselowski briefly before slipping back again into second position. Now out front, Keselowski slowly put ground on Kahne and eventually beat him to the finish by just more than a second.