BRISTOL, Tenn. — Brad Keselowski moved a step closer to making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship by winning Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway, his third victory of the season.
Keselowski has been on a tear since breaking his ankle in a crash while testing earlier this month. Since the injury, he's won at Pocono, finished second at Watkins Glen, third at Michigan and now has the Bristol.
Although he's walked gingerly in the month since the accident, he hopped up and down in excitement as he climbed from the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
"An awesome car, an awesome team!" he yelled. "Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won this race. It's a race of champions. There are races that pay more, that are races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all."
Keselowski's three wins should be enough to at least earn him one of the two wild cards into the 12-driver Chase. The top 10 in the standings after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond make the Chase, along with two wild cars for the drivers with the most wins who aren't already eligible.
Keselowski, ranked 21st in the standings before his accident at Road Atlanta, has rocketed to 11th in points in the four races since.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second and Jeff Gordon was third despite dominating most of the race. Five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was fourth and was followed by Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.
Denny Hamlin, clinging to one of the wild cards, rallied to finish seventh despite Paul Menard running into the back of his car to cause serious damage. Ryan Newman was eighth and was followed by Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose.
Kyle Busch, who on Friday picked up his record 50th Nationwide Series victory and was looking for his third consecutive win at Bristol in the Cup race, finished 14th after bringing out the final caution of the race with 87 laps to go when a tire issue sent him into the wall.
With a ninth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards remains in fourth place in the Sprint Cup point standings. He trails leaders Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson (tied at 830) by 35 points.