Clint Bowyer picked up his first win in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Saturday night, winning a fuel mileage race that ended in disaster for points leader Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski dominated at Charlotte Motor Speedway (N.C.) but ran out of gas with 58 laps left to blow his chance at the victory. He fell a lap down and finished 11th, and had his lead in the standings sliced in half over five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.
Keselowski, who has a seven-point lead over Johnson at the halfway point of the 10-race Chase, immediately gave his Penske Racing team a pep talk over the radio.
"Win some lose some guys, it's all good," he said.
Keselowski, who also ran out of gas Friday in the Nationwide Series race, led 139 of the 334 laps but had little to show for his effort.
"It's blackjack, you're not going to win every hand," he said. "When you got a bad deal you have to try not to have too many chips on the table."
Denny Hamlin finished second and is third in the Chase, 15 points back, and Johnson placed third.
Everyone had to keep one eye on the gas gauge starting very early in the race, and it worked out in Bowyer's favor for his career-best third victory of the season. It also put him back in the title hunt as he moved one spot in the standings to fourth, and he's 28 points out as he heads next week to his home track in Kansas.
It all comes in Bowyer's first season with Michael Waltrip Racing and manufacturer Toyota, a partnership that's working better than expected.
"Who thought in a million years I'd walk into the situation I've walked into?" Bowyer asked in Victory Lane.
The race was the first since 1979 without an Earnhardt as Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out with a concussion. Regan Smith got the start for Earnhardt, but it was short-lived. The engine in the No. 88 Chevrolet failed during the first third of the race.
Formula One: Mark Webber led qualifying at the Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam, upstaging Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel.
chase for the cup
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Cup standings with five races remaining:
1. Brad Keselowski 2,214
2. Jimmie Johnson 2,207
3. Denny Hamlin 2,199
4. Clint Bowyer 2,186
5. Kasey Kahne 2,179
6. Greg Biffle 2,171
7. Martin Truex Jr. 2,165
8. Tony Stewart 2,164
9. Jeff Gordon 2,164
10. Kevin Harvick 2,158
11. Matt Kenseth 2,147
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,128