TWICE AS NICE FOR BK
Jeff Gordon and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. came together on Lap 360 sending the No. 24 into the Turn 3 wall (photo courtesy: Rainier Erhardt, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
He became the 12th driver in the 52-year history of the track to win back-to-back races after winning Race 4 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
"To win championships, you have to be able to overcome adversity," Keselowski said. "It's very much a defining racetrack in that sense."
Last year’s win at Bristol was Keselowski’s first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Though Keselowski had won Nationwide Series races—and eventually the 2010 series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway—many thought his first Cup win was a fluke.
He won three Sprint Cup Series races last year to earn a wild-card berth into the Chase For The Sprint Cup which culminated at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but his Bristol victory was his coming-out party. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Keselowski entered Sunday’s race as one of the favorites. He got some help when top contenders Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne were all taken out in an early wreck—one Keselowski barely escaped.
Four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who Keselowski had to beat here in August, was sidelined in a crash with teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt and Gordon were racing side-by-side on Lap 360, with Earnhardt trying to pass to the inside for the fifth position. But contact between the tailpipes on the right side of Earnhardt's car and Gordon's left-rear tire sent Gordon spinning into the Turn 3 wall.
Gordon finished 35th and dropped six positions to 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings.
"I absolutely feel responsible," Earnhardt said. "I got into his door a little bit. We were racing and having a good time, to be honest with you. I put the pipes up against the left-rear tire of his car and knocked the sidewall out of it.”
On Lap 480, Earnhardt was flagged for speeding on the entry to pit road and restarted at the back with 17 laps left. Earnhardt had been running sixth at the time, but the speeding penalty dropped him to 15th at the finish. Earnhardt’s winless streak, dating to 2008 at Michigan, reached 133 races at Bristol.
“Just hard racing here at Bristol” Gordon said. “Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got underneath me. When he got into me, it looked like the tailpipe just caught the left rear (tire) and cut the left rear. I don't know what cut the left front (tire), but something cut the left front too and so around we went.”
Keselowski battled Roush Fenway Racing’s Matt Kenseth, a two-time Bristol winner, for the win. But, in the end, Kenseth was no match for the Penske Racing driver.
"The best drivers here [at Bristol] go on and win championships," said Keselowski, who moved up eight spots to 13th in the championship standings.
And being NASCAR Champion, not champion of Bristol, is Keselowski's ultimate goal. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Good Day for Brian Vickers
Ft. Lauderdale resident, Brian Vickers, returned to the seat of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car for the first time in 2012. In the first episode of a six-race deal with Michael Waltrip Racing, Vickers drove the No. 55 car to a fifth-place finish at Bristol, running right behind teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
The same driver who exited the series last year after a series of on-track altercations—with Kenseth, in particular—kept his nose clean throughout the race and went a long way toward convincing critics that he deserves another shot at NASCAR's premier series.
Vickers was the odd man out after Red Bull Racing left the sport last year, and was the center of attention with some aggressive driving at the end of the season.
Vickers led 125 laps, second only to race winner Brad Keselowski's 232.
"What an organization," Vickers said. "So proud to be part of getting all three cars in the top five. When it's your only one (opportunity), you've got to make it count."
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 25 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox TV, MRN Radio)—Race 5 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.