NASCAR » 18 March 2012
Keselowski too strong for Kenseth
For Earnhardt, it was the second week in a row that he'd ended up sending a friend into an accident. Last week he'd punted former Hendrick team mate Mark Martin into the wall in a momentary burst of pique for an earlier perceived discourtesy and had to apologise the next day.
"Well, I don't have to hear about me and Mark Martin anymore," said Earnhardt ruefully. He added that he "hates that it happened" and that he "will try to take better care of a teammate" in future but that he wasn't going to beat himself up over a racing incident, either.
That left Kenseth and Keselowski once again battling for the lead at the restart on lap 371; Kenseth was initially able to ward off the #2's advances, but finally on lap 385 he succumbed and Keselowski was back in charge. Kenseth stayed right with him, clamped to the rear fender of the blue deuce, but Keselowski was making no mistakes now and giving Kenseth no chance to get back in front this close to the end.
There were still some tense moments left - everyone was very marginal on fuel, and then a late sixth caution on lap 478 for a spin by Tony Stewart following contact from Brendan Gaughan put the rear of the #14 into the wall and offered up a final chance to Kenseth to attack Keselowski at the restart.
"Brendan came down and told me and all of my guys sorry, which we really appreciated,” said Stewart of the accident. “He went down into [three] and the brake pedal went to the floor. It's kind of good that I was there to somewhat slow him down a little bit, but at the same time we had a top ten run going there."
When it came to the restart on lap 484, Brad still wasn't budging. He took the outside line and quickly pulled away from Kenseth in the final minutes to make it to the chequered flag with a relatively comfortable margin of victory of 0.714s at the end of 500 laps.
"He was just better than me," admitted Kenseth after finishing in second place. "He could keep his tyres on the car a little better and got off the corner that much better than me to where I couldn't get by him. That was the difference."
"The last few races have been really good, and I knew we had a shot at winning one if we closed the deal," said Keselowski. "Matt didn't make it easy!"
Winning for the first time in 2012 was just whetting Keselowski's appetite for more. "I'm just thrilled to death to be here in victory lane at Bristol again, one of my favourite places for sure," he said. "If this team keeps performing like they are, we'll get more.
"We need to keep winning races to lock ourselves in the Chase, but heck, I'd rather just go into the Chase in the top spot," he added. "If we run like we have the last few weeks we've got as good a shot as anybody else!"
Tagged as: Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bristol , Brad Keselowski , Greg Biffle , Matt Kenseth , A.J. Allmendinger , Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Marcos Ambrose , Kyle Busch
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