KESELOWSKI FINISHES AHEAD OF KAHNE
Keselowski wrestled the lead away from Kasey Kahne with nine laps to go after battling side-by-side with Kahne for several laps following the final restart.
“I raced Kasey really hard,” Keselowski said. “I love hard racing, and there are a handful of guys who can’t race hard in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey’s not one of them. He’s an excellent driver. He ran me hard, but he ran me clean.”
Kahne said he tried everything he could to keep Keselowski in his mirror, but the defending champ had four new tires and a bag full of tricks.
“I took two (tires) at the end and thought I’d be pretty good, but as soon as I got to Turn 1, I knew I was in trouble with the four-tire guys,” Kahne said. “So I tried to just run good laps but Brad caught me, so then I tried to mix it up a bit. It was a great battle. I had a great time racing with him; we just came out on the wrong side of it.”
Before that final restart, the race had been Jimmie Johnson’s to lose. He led from lap 229 until a caution for debris with 26 laps remaining sent the leaders into the pits for tires and a dose of strategy.
Kahne and Jeff Gordon took two tires, while the rest of the leaders took four. Johnson’s pit crew got him out ahead of the rest of the four-tire drivers, putting him in third for the restart. But a miscue at the green relegated him far enough back in the field that he couldn’t recover.
Johnson ended up fourth, but he remains in the championship hunt just three points behind championship leader Matt Kenseth, who finished just ahead in third position.
“We had that last caution, which shook things up and then I pushed the (Kahne) off into Turn 1, and evidently I was too close to him and in his wake and my car washed up a little bit because I started to leave the bottom,” Johnson said. “I just lost track position, which was unfortunate. Once I got rolling and going again, I was fine, but I’d just lost too much track position.”
BANK OF AMERICA 500 DRIVER QUOTES
BRAD KESELOWSKI (BANK OF AMERICA 500 WINNER, No. 2 MILLER LITE FORD): (Victory Lane Interview) “It was a never-give-up night. We had a lot of struggles tonight; we didn’t qualify well, but kept working our way forward. I knew we had a good car; I’m not sure if it was as good as (Johnson) or (Kahne). I raced Kasey really hard. I love hard racing, and there are a handful of guys who can’t race hard in this deal because they freak out, but Kasey’s not one of them. He’s an excellent driver. He ran me hard, but he ran me clean. He’s a great racer; I’m proud to race with him; he did a hell of a job. At the end of the day the Miller Lite Ford was just fast, and we persevered.
(Media Center Interview) “It was a great night for us; whenever you win is a great night. But to win under the circumstances we did; we faced a little adversity in the middle of the race, and then a great battle with two stallions here, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth. To put all that together and come out on top is something we’re going to be proud of and cherish for a long, long time.”
PAUL WOLFE (CREW CHIEF, No. 2 MILLER LITE FORD) – “We’ve had good race cars here, especially in the second half of the season, it just seems like every time we turn around something goes wrong. Some things in our control, some not. You start to question the things that have worked in the past, you start to wonder if you need to do something different. We haven’t done anything different than we did to win a championship and the thing was to just stay focused and continue to work hard and know that eventually our luck has to start to go our way and get the results, and I think we were able to do that tonight. Obviously, a big relief to get that first win this year.
ROGER PENSKE (OWNER, No. 2 MILLER LITE FORD) – “We’ve shown speed, and we’ve had some issues, as Paul (Wolfe) said, but at the end of the day we hadn’t been to victory circle. And I think for Brad, obviously, he was concerned; we all were. But at the end of the day we knew he was the guy who gave us the championship last year. And Brad, you realize that every driver in our stable has won a race now. So I’d say this is a pretty good night for us. Paul, I want to thank you for persevering, and the team. You know, the Ford, the engine was really running tonight. You could really see it down the back straightaway. We had some speed and the car really was handling, we just had to get him up there. When I saw the jack under the car I thought, ‘Here we go again, not a good night,’ but at the end of the day, when it was time to go, we raced the best and it was Brad behind the wheel. It wasn’t a fuel-economy run, it was him digging deep and taking us to Victory Lane, so it was a great night for us.”
KASEY KAHNE (SECOND PLACE, No. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET) – “I actually had a great car all night. We were on two tires and (Keselowski) was on four, so he could maneuver a touch better than we could. I tried everything to keep him behind me. We were just driving hard. He did a really good job and had a fast car there at the end. We came close, and I actually started to reel him back in until a lap or two to go and I rubbed the wall trying to steal all I could. We had a great Quaker State car all night. We could have won, but second ain’t too bad. It was really solid until about lap 160. It changed a little bit. We had to real work hard to get back. At that point we had lost our speed and were going to finish second to (Johnson). And we took two (tires) at the end, which was a good call to stay on that front row there. On the start I was able to clear (Gordon), and I thought it would be pretty good until I got to Turn 1. My left side, I could feel them and knew they weren’t as good then. They were just rough, kind of bounced a little bit. Brad caught me, and he got by me in three, and I was able to get back by. But he ran a really good race. It was close. Wish we could have won this, but second isn’t too bad considering the last four races.”
MATT KENSETH (THIRD PLACE, No. 20 DOLLAR GENERAL TOYOTA) – “The whole Dollar General crew did a really good job tonight. We were a little off there. We made the right adjustments that the car really liked. Tonight was a big positive for us. It was a little bit of a struggle this weekend. I didn’t get a good lap there qualifying. That was really the start of us getting behind tonight. And on the second adjustment (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) and the group was really good and found something I really liked. Our car starting running really good, and I was passing and working our way up through the field on those long runs. They just got really far ahead of us. Overall I was just really proud of the whole Dollar General team. They did a great job on the adjustments. The part that was crazy was that last restart. The two cars in front of me had two tires. I couldn’t believe they figured out how to give me a chance to win again. I’m kind of disappointed I couldn’t figure out how to win with the position they put me in. I had a good restart and coming out of Turn 2 in second, I was sure I had a shot to go around (Kahne), but I just didn’t get it done."
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