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Keselowski too strong for Johnson at Chicago

"It just wasn't a good day," admitted Bowyer, who had come into this race voicing some very high hopes of competing for the outright win to kick off his own Chase campaign. "I don't know whether it was strategy or pit stops or what, but it seemed like we lost spots on pit road all day and it just cost us. You ain't going to win a championship with decent days — you have to have good days," he pointed out.

"We were horrible at the start — just straight to the rear," said Truex, Bowyer's team mate at Michael Waltrip Racing. "We were just so tight all day long. I don't know what happened, I can't believe we missed it that bad.

"We just had to stick with it, keep pushing and keep pounding on it," he continued. "We made lots and lots and lots and lots of changes — big changes and it just worked at the end. We just kept getting them one at a time.”

Kevin Harvick finished the race in 12th place just ahead of Greg Biffle, who was frustrated with the way his day had ended.

"We were really going good there at the end and we did our last stop and the car just went bad," he said. "It just got way too loose and we were hooking the bottom. I don't even really know what happened. We were driving up through there and the car was getting better and better and it never fails – the last stop of the day we put our tires on and it went bad."

Biffle's outgoing Roush Fenway Racing team mate Matt Kenseth had a shaky weekend - literally in his case, as a shock absorber fell off mid-race making the #17 a real handful on the bumpy Chicagoland Speedway race surface. He managed to hold on to it till the next round of pit stops and finished a lap down in 18th place, which might not have veen the result he'd wanted, but at least it wasn't the same-scale disaster as had befallen Jeff Gordon.

"We had a brake line get loose at Bristol and a shock fall off today so obviously we have to get to the bottom of that," said Kenseth after the race. "We didn't have a very fast car to start with ... When we had that problem, we got so far behind."

There's still time for Kenseth et al to rally back and figure in the Chase, but they can afford no further mistakes over the next nine weeks or else they might find themselves staring helplessly on as Keselowski, Johnson and Stewart pull away and make the battle for the Sprint Cup championship an increasingly private affair.

Full race results and championship standings available.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Farmland Ford, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, heads across the star/finish line to take the chequered flag and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, lead the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, leads the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
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Martin Truex, Jr, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Cheez-It Ford, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Cheez-It Ford, pits during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, celebrates winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. CPT Travis L. Patriquin, US Army, is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael S. Duskin is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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