Bristol, Tenn.,—Brad Keselowski made it back-to-back wins at Bristol Motor Speedway in Sunday’s Food City 500 after crew chief Paul Wolfe elected to stay out when the final caution flag waved with under 20 laps remaining.
“It’s never an easy decision to try and decide to pit or stay out, but with just a few laps remaining it was a tough call that Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) had to make, and made the right one on,” said Keselowski, who led 231 of 500 laps.
“It’s one of the toughest calls in this sport and we made the right one today and that put us in victory lane,” Keselowski added.
Wolfe said the decision to stay out was the toughest of the race, but team engineer Brian Wilson helped make the decision.
“Looking at where we were at in the race, the speed we had in our car, we felt like if we stayed out even with fresh tires it was going to be real tough to pass us,” said Wolfe. “Like I told Brad, let’s say out and make ‘em have to pass us.”
“Really wasn’t anybody on fresh tires that was able to do that,” Wolfe added.
Kenseth and Keselowski battled for the lead on more than one occasion, and Kenseth took a turn out front for 46 laps. Kenseth said “I got rolling pretty good both time and we got to the lines pretty even, he was just better than me.”
“I held him off as long as I could and he finally slipped by me,” added Kenseth. “He had a little better car there at the end. I raced him as hard as I could race him.”
Martin Truex, Jr. also stayed out on the last caution and picked up enough spots to finish in the third position.
“Obviously, it was a great day for MWR,” said Truex, who finished third after crew chief Chad Johnson elected to stay out during the final caution. “He (Johnson) called to stay out and stuck to his guns and never second guessed himself.”
“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 or 14 races—we’ve had a really consistent, really good race team,” Truex added. “We’ve got a lot of confidence.”
The recent improvement in confidence for Truex has been the changes MWR has made to improve performance. One of those changes to MWR was the addition of Clint Bowyer, who finished fourth.
“These MWR cars have been good ever since (Martin) Truex was running good at the end of last year,” said Bowyer, who signed to drive for MWR in late 2011. “Heck of a day for MWR.”
Fifth place finisher Brian Vickers was brought in to MWR earlier in the season to run six races in the No. 55, splitting the ride with owner Waltrip, and Mark Martin. Vickers returned to the track since being out of a ride due to the closure of Red Bull Racing in 2011.
“I can tell a lot about them (Michael Waltrip and Rob Kaufmann, team owners) by the group of people they’ve built and the team they’ve built,” said Vickers. “I’m proud to be a part of getting all three cars in the top-five.
Jeff Burton finished sixth, Jamie McMurray finished seventh, and Juan Pablo Montoya was eighth. Jimmie Johnson finished ninth, and Paul Menard rounded out the top-10.
Greg Biffle leads the Sprint Cup Series points standings, nine points ahead of Kevin Harvick. Kenseth is 12 points back, Truex is 18 points back, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Denny Hamlin are both 20 points behind the leader.
Other notes from the Food City 500:
Pole sitter Greg Biffle finished 13th after being back and forth throughout the day on handling. “We were way too tight at the end and we were plowing down on the splitter,” said Biffle. “It was all I could do.”
Five-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch never got the chance to contend for another win after being involved in the lap 23 accident that collected Kasey Kahne (37th) , Carl Edwards (39th), Kevin Harvick (11th), Regan Smith (24th) and Marcos Ambrose (36th). Busch finished 32nd, and Dave Rogers (crew chief) said the incident was a product of short track racing.
“The No. 5 (Kahne) was blocking the race track and everyone was trying to check up,” Rogers said. “You just can’t check up quick enough and we got caught up in it. Nothing that Kyle (Busch) could have done any different. (Kevin) Harvick got into the back of us and I don’t think there was anything Harvick could have done any different. It was just racing.”