Brad Keselowski finally broke his 2013 win duck with victory at Charlotte following a thrilling late-race battle with Kasey Kahne.
Keselowski, who missed out on the Chase in a miserable title defence season, fought back from an early pit lane penalty for leaving his pit box with his jack still underneath the car to take his first win in 2013.
“It was a great night for us, obviously,” said the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion. “Whenever you can win it’s a great night. But to win under the circumstances we did, obviously 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 at the end and come out on top is something we’re going to be proud of and cherish for a long, long time.”
Despite the early race hiccups, Keselowski found some pace in the latter stages, passing Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to reach race-leading Kahne. Keselowski and Kahne battled for several laps, racing bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door, before Keselowski finally got the lead with nine laps remaining.
Kenseth had a difficult night but rallied back to finish in third place, maintaining his points lead over Johnson, with Harvick now sitting 29 points back in third place.
The race looked like it was going to go the way of ‘Five-Time’ Johnson, who dominated the race up until the caution flag flew for debris with 27 laps remaining. Johnson then slipped down the order in the pits after taking four tyres while Kahne and Gordon took two.
“The last caution certainly shook things up,” Johnson said. “I pushed the 5 into Turn 1 and evidently I was too close to his wake and my car washed up a little bit and I started to leave the bottom. The 18 and a couple of guys got inside of me and I just lost track position at that point.”
Kahne led a race-high 138 laps on his way to second, looking strong after the final round of pit stops before Keselowski reeled him in for a late race duel for the victory.