BRISTOL, Tenn. — Brad Keselowski grabbed his first win of the season Sunday, holding off Matt Kenseth on a late restart to win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Keselowski led a career-best and race-high 231 laps, but battled back and forth with Kenseth for the final third of the race. Kenseth beat him on an earlier restart, and Keselowski had to chase him down to reclaim the lead.
Then a late caution when Tony Stewart hit the wall put Keselowski’s win in jeopardy.
“I’ve got no clue what to do here,” he radioed his Penske Racing team.
Crew chief Paul Wolfe left him on the track, where he had to again deal with Kenseth on a restart with 17 laps remaining. Keselowski had no problems holding him off, choosing to restart on the outside, and he easily pulled away for the victory.
He even taunted Wolfe over the final two laps, asking the crew chief twice to admit he was nervous about the outcome.
Wolfe had nothing to worry about, as Keselowski cruised to Victory Lane.
“Matt didn’t make it easy,” Keselowski said. “That’s his job, to not make it easy on me. He raced me hard; I raced him hard, rubbed a little bit. That’s good racing.”
Kenseth, the Daytona 500 winner, settled for second in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford and wasn’t sure if Keselowski electing to restart on the outside was the difference.
“If I’d have been on the top, maybe I could have pinned him down there,” Kenseth said. “But on old tires, I knew he was going to choose the top.”
The three Toyotas from Michael Waltrip Racing capped an impressive day by rounding out the top five.
Martin Truex Jr. led the MWR contingent with a third-place finish and was followed by Bowyer and Vickers, who ran his first race of the season.