Brad Keselowski's hot streak got hotter Saturday night, as he won the Irwin Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, his third win in 2011 and the fourth of his career. Keselowski has now finished third or better in his last four races and set himself up as one of the likeliest threats to Jimmie Johnson's championship reign with just two races remaining till the Chase.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second by inches over Jeff Gordon, who dominated for much of the race by leading 206 laps. Johnson finished fourth, while Jamie McMurray had perhaps his best race all year in finishing fifth. Matt Kenseth finished sixth after having perhaps the second-best car to Gordon most of the night. Denny Hamlin, polesitter Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-10.
Kyle Busch, the pre-race favorite thanks to his recent history at Bristol, led only four laps and finished a disappointing 13th. He was seeking his third-consecutive win in the Irwin Tools Night Race and his third overall win at the track.
In the race to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart endured miserable nights. Bowyer finished 26th, two laps down, while Stewart was 28th, three laps off the pace. Keselowski's win - which officially locks him into the Chase at least via one of the wild card spots - moved him closer to Stewart, who is winless in 2011 and needs to remain in the top-10 in points to make the Chase if he can not win one of the next two races.
Keselowski completed the field for the Sprint Summer Showdown which will take place at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He was already entered with his win at Pocono, along with Busch, Menard, and Ambrose. If any of the four can win Sunday at AMS, they will earn $1 million each for themselves, a charity of their choice, and a fan who will be paired with them.