Bowyer stretches fuel for Charlotte win, Keselowski holds points lead

The way the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup has started, you would have expected either one of the top-three drivers in the standings to be contending for the race win.

For the majority of the race, you would have been right as Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin dominated the first 300 laps of the 334 lap event.

However, as is the case at many of the 1.5-mile tracks this season, fuel mileage came into the equation and added a twist to the race’s end.

After running out of fuel prior to the final round of pit stops, Keselowski went from racing for the win and extending his points lead to making the most of a bad situation and maintain their points lead.

While Keselowski battled for a top-10, his championship counterparts, Johnson and Hamlin, looked to be in contention for a win, and gain on the points lead. But, only one would have a chance at the win once the race wound down.

Stretching his fuel on the previous round of stops, Clint Bowyer had nearly a two-second lead over the second-place car of Hamlin as the race neared its closing lap.

Knocking down the gap each and every lap, Hamlin’s chances at victory were looking brighter while Johnson’s turned bleak as fuel became an issue for his Chevrolet.

With the laps winding down, Bowyer drew closer to his third win of 2012, but Hamlin wasn’t about to let him go without a test in the closing laps.

Through lapped traffic, the No.11 closed on Bowyer’s lead with under five laps to go. It turned out to be too little, too late as Bowyer went on to claim his third victory of the 2012 season by winning the Bank of America 500.

“What a wild race. I want to do a burnout, am I ever going to get to do a burnout?” said Bowyer in victory lane after his car ran out of gas following the checkered flag and had to walk to victory lane without his car for the third time this season.

By winning his third race of the 2012 season, it marks the highest season win total for Bowyer in his seven year Sprint Cup Series career, something he credits to his crew chief Brian Pattie.

“I just hold the wheel and turn left. Brian Pattie and the team he’s assembled around me is second-to-none.

“We’ve had cars all year long capable of winning and to win three times, it’s just incredible.”

With the win, Bowyer moves to fourth in Sprint Cup points, 28-points behind leader Keselowski heading into next weekend’s race at Kasnsas Speedway.

“You’re not going to win them all,” said Keselwoski. “We didn’t lose too much. We got eleventh out of the day. From cautions at the beginning to lack of them at the end, we still put out a respectable effort.

“Lead a bunch of laps which makes up for not having a top-10, but still would like to get those other three spots.”

Bank of America 500 Results

  1. Clint Bowyer
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Greg Biffle
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Kasey Kahne
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Martin Truex Jr.
  11. Brad Keselowski
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Tony Stewart
  14. Matt Kenseth
  15. Sam Hornish Jr.
  16. Kevin Harvick
  17. Jamie McMurray
  18. Jeff Gordon
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Ryan Newman
  21. Kurt Busch
  22. Trevor Bayne
  23. David Gilliland
  24. AJ Allmendinger
  25. Travis Kvapil
  26. Landon Cassill
  27. Paul Menard
  28. Jeff Burton
  29. Casey Mears
  30. David Reutimann
  31. Michael McDowell
  32. Bobby Labonte
  33. Marcos Ambrose
  34. David Ragan
  35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  36. Timmy Hill
  37. David Stremme
  38. Regan Smith
  39. Mike Bliss
  40. Scott Speed
  41. Reed Sorenson
  42. JJ Yeley
  43. Dave Blaney
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