Keselowski Racks Up Another BMS Victory at Food City 500
Brad Keselowski earned his second straight victory at Bristol Motor Speedway when he took home Sunday afternoon’s Food City 500 after a hard fought battle with runner-up Matt Kenseth.
Keselowski led 232 laps on his way to the win, the 10th triumph for car owner Roger Penske at BMS. Penske won previously with Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch in Bristol.
The Rochester Hills, Mich. native appears to have a handle on the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” something he doesn’t want to give up any time soon. He felt today’s victory was justification for the naysayers who said his win in the 2011 IRWIN Tools Night Race was due to his taking advantage of the timing lines on pit road.
“This car as strong as it was,” Keselowski began, “I knew the blue deuce was strong enough to win the race back in the fall, with or without timing lines. It feels so good to prove it here today. We knew we had a shot at winning one if we ran like we were and today we closed the deal.
“Kenseth raced me hard and I raced him hard and we rubbed a little bit. I don’t know how anybody can say Bristol is not as good as it was. I think they may be right, though, because it is BETTER than it ever was. Today is one of the best races I’ve ever been a part of.”
Keselowski certainly was not shy about expressing his feelings for the Concrete Colosseum.
“I love Bristol and Bristol loves me. It is a great track that really demands 100 percent out of a driver and out of a team. Today my team certainly delivered. You could probably argue whether or not I did,” he said with a laugh. “It is tough racing that requires so much discipline.”
“I’m really proud of this one for sure. This is an earn it place. There ain’t no doubt about that. Happy to have it earned. I’m biased I know. But to me this is one of the best Bristol races ever. There was side by side racing, beating and banging, everything you could ask for…some day, they’ll talk about, I wish it was like it was in 2012.”
Kenseth worked hard at the end of the race to challenge Keselowski for the victory, but didn’t have quite what he needed to get the win. He gave Keselowski all he had, almost wrecking in the process, but came up just short.
“We started a little too loose,” he said, “plus we picked up some tape on the brake ducts. That last run we were too free. I held him on the bottom as long as I could. I was finally going to crash, and he slipped by me.
“I got too loose and knew I wasn’t going to have enough traction to get off the corners. I raced him as hard as I could race him. I was hoping he would burn his right rear off.”
Michael Waltrip Racing swept the rest of the top-five with Martin Truex, Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers finishing third through fifth, respectively.
“I’m proud of the team,” Truex said. “This says a lot about what everyone has done in the off season. We had a great strategy in the end. It was a good day for the whole company.”
“Really, it was a good weekend for all of us. I was worried coming in to the race today. We were not perfect throughout the day. We worked on it all day, and at the end, staying out really paid off for us.”
Vickers was making his first start of the 2012 season, after losing his ride at the end of last season. It did not take him long to get back in the groove, as he led three times for a total of 125 laps.
“It was pretty good,” Vickers said. “I felt good when I was out front leading. For my first time back, I can’t complain about that. I’m proud to be part of getting all three (MWR) cars in the top-five.”
Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard rounded out the top-10.
A major pileup on lap 23 took out several former BMS track winners and contenders for today’s win, including Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.
Late in the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Jeff Gordon touched each other while pushing each other for position. The contact cut Gordon’s tire, causing the five-time Bristol winner to spin hard in to the turn three wall.
“I hate what happened to Jeff,” Earnhardt admitted. “We were racing hard. That was fun. This is one of those places where you can rub on each other. To me, it was good hard racing and the pipes on my car cut the tire down and I hate that for my teammate. There are four of us (at Hendrick Motorsports) out there, so we’re bound to run in to each other every once in a while.”
Gordon ended the race in 35th position, while Earnhardt Jr. finished 15th.
Tickets now are available for the Aug. 25 IRWIN Tools Night Race, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.