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The win is the fifth of the season for Matt Kenseth, most in the Sprint Cup Series, and clinches a spot in the Chase for the championship.
Bristol Herald Courier
Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. crash in turns 3 and 4 during the late stages of the Irwin Tools Night Race.
Bristol Herald Courier
Matt Kenseth celebrates his win in the Irwin Tools Night Race Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Races at Bristol Motor Speedway have increasingly developed into a high speed traffic jam.
For Matt Kenseth, the high line was the right line late Saturday night.
Relying on his usual efficient style, Kenseth captured the IRWIN Tools Night Race before a near capacity crowd.
With fans screaming, Kenseth held off several challenges from Kasey Kahne over the final 10 laps en route to his third career BMS victory.
"We won the Bristol night race," Kenseth said. "That's pretty awesome. This is a special place with special fans."
Kenseth, who was penalized earlier in the race for speeding on pit road, described the wild late-race struggle with Kahne.
"He wanted it bad and raced us hard as he could," Kenseth said. "I had just enough fuel and just enough tires."
Kahne was not pleased with his runnerup effort.
"I thought we clearly had the best car, I just didn't get it done," Kahne said. "I'm upset with myself.
"I tried to pass him as clean and as hard as I could. I was hoping [Kenseth] would mess up, but he never did."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano rounded out the top five finishers.
"That's all we had," Montoya said.
Montoya admitted that he was looking for a bobble between Kenseth and Kahne.
"Yeah, I was hoping they were going to wreck on the white flag to be honest," he said.
The race was halted by a red flag on lap 447 when seven cars, including Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, were involved in an accident on Turn 3.
"Track position was such a big deal," Harvick said. "I just wish we had the old Bristol back. It was a lot more fun to race on."
A furious Harvick parked his car in Hamlin's pit stall, then walked over for a brief chat with Hamlin.
When the race resumed, Kenseth was in the lead. While there was some debate over whether he had enough fuel for the finish, Kenseth was flawless to the end.
In a throwback to the old days of Britol Motor Speedway, there was basically one groove around the track. Throw in the high stakes of the championship points race and the ever-present perils of lapped traffic, and few drivers were willing to force the issue with bold moves.
Hamlin, the pole-winner, held the lead for the first 22 laps, then Kurt Busch executed a textbook move on the inside.
The night went sour for Busch when he was forced into the pits on lap 79. His problems were then compounded by a slow pit stop, a penalty for speeding on pit road and a skirmish with the Josh Wise car.
Busch was forced to settle for 31st-place finish.
Thanks to pit strategy, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took the lead on lap 94 and stayed there for 32 laps before giving way to Clint Bowyer. Earnhardt finished 10th.
After opening an advantage of nearly two seconds, Bowyer saw his night ruined on lap 176 when he was spun by the lapped car driven by Travis Kvapil.
The big story entering the race was the quest by Kyle Busch for a Bristol Motor Speedway sweep.
After starting last, Busch moved to second at mid-race but he was forced to settle for 11th.
The race was slowed by a total of 11 cautions for 74 laps. There were 16 lead changes among nine drivers.
It was the third straight Bristol Motor Speedway Sprint Cup race that featured double digit cautions.
Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was involved in a multi-car incident on lap 358.
Carl Edwards, who earned the nickname of "Concrete Carl" for his success at Bristol, led laps and was in position for another win before his night was doomed by an engine problem around lap 380.
Edwards said his car was "almost perfect" before that mechanical gremlin with a valve spring.
The first caution came on lap 40 when the car driven by rookie Ryan Truex, Jr. smacked the outside wall in his Sprint Cup debut.
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