October 14, 2012 in Sports

Bowyer captures first win in Chase

 
Associated Press photo

Clint Bowyer celebrates after winning the NASCAR Bank of America 500 Sprint Cup series auto race.
(Full-size photo)

Clint Bowyer picked up his first win in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Saturday night in Concord, N.C., winning a fuel mileage race that ended in disaster for points leader Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski dominated Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway but ran out of gas with 58 laps remaining 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 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 told them.

Keselowski, who also ran out of gas Friday night in the Nationwide Series race because of a fueling error, then asked his crew if he led the most laps Saturday night. Indeed – he led 139 of the 334 – 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 finished third. Neither felt all that bad for Keselowski.

Everyone had to keep one eye on the gas gauge starting 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 out far better than expected.

“Who thought in a million years I’d walk into the situation I’ve walked into?” he asked in Victory Lane.

The race was the first since 1979 without an Earnhardt as Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out with a concussion. The announcement was made Thursday after Earnhardt sought medical attention for a headache from the 25-car accident Sunday at Talladega.

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, sending Smith to the garage for the night.

Formula One

Mark Webber took the pole position for the Korean Grand Prix , upstaging Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in Yeongam, South Korea.

The Australian finished 0.074 seconds ahead of Vettel. Hamilton was third, followed by championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen qualified fifth, meaning the top five in the Formula One standings fill the top five grid slots, raising the prospects of a vital shootout today.

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