It came down to a fuel mileage race and in the end it was another chaser, this time Clint Bowyer, that came away with the victory in the Bank of America 500.
With it being a home race for many of the race teams, every driver wanted to provide a win, but when the laps stayed green and the fuel supply depleted, it was Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing that recorded their third win of the season.
It is the second time a MWR Toyota has won a race at Charlotte, with David Reutimann previously winning the 2009 Coca-Cola 600.
This is also the seventh time that a different winner has visited victory lane in the last seven October races at Charlotte.
Fuel mileage shuffled up the finishing order a bit, but here is a look at where the 43 drivers finished in the Bank of America 500:
1. Clint Bowyer – His third win of the season and the fifth win for Michael Waltrip Racing in its history, Bowyer didn’t look like he was going to be able to win, he stayed in the top-five for much of the night, but not until he stretched fuel did his car look strong enough to win.
2. Denny Hamlin -Hamlin was involved in the three-way battle for the lead for most of the second half of the race. Although his car lacked the speed of Keselowski and Johnson, Hamlin took the lead late in the race, but had to pit ahead of Bowyer and didn’t have enough speed to catch Bowyer in the closing laps.
3. Jimmie Johnson – Fuel mileage has never been the strong suit of the No 48 team in its history and it proved to be a pitfall again tonight. Johnson took the lead when Keselowski pitted late and then did his best to save fuel. However, to save fuel Johnson had to slow his lap times and that took him out of contention to win.
4. Greg Biffle – Biffle started from the pole and had a fast car, but after the first pit stop and the handeling of his car went away. Biffle stayed in the top-5 much of the night and had the lead with 30 to go, but he had to pit late for fuel and he couldn’t make up the 30 second deficit between him and Bowyer to regain the lead.
5. Kyle Busch – Busch surged late and was able to lead some laps. Most of the night though, Busch was hanging out in the middle of the top-five and looked like he was going to be content for a finish there. An adjustment on the final pit stop had him contending for the lead, but fuel mileage took away his chances for the win and in the end Busch had to settle for a top-five finish.
6. Mark Martin – At the start of the race Martin’s car was as fast, if not faster than any of the cars in the field. Then Martin had some adjustments made on various pit stops and Martin fell back in the top-10 for most of the night. That is where Martin would finish, after not being able to conserve enough fuel, like his partner, Bowyer did. He was the last car to finish on the lead lap.
7. Carl Edwards – Edwards started in 19th and slowly made his way through the field. He never made it to the lead, but Edwards was as high as third at one point in the race. From there Edwards would get caught up in the fuel mileage race and a late pit stop brougt him from a potential top-five to his top-10 finish.
8. Kasey Kahne – Kahne was the pre-race favorite to sweep the races at Charlotte. However the No. 5 Chevrolet never had the speed that Johnson had to get out front. Kahne had a solid night in the top-10 though. He started tenth and stayed there for most of the night, with a brief mid-race apparence in the top-five, but he didn’t stay there long.
9. Joey Logano – Logano didn’t have the speed that his teammates had, but Logano still showed that his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota had speed. He stretched the fuel mileage game as far as he could. Staying int the top-five until there were less than 20 laps to go, Logano had to pit late and that saw his position in the finishing order drop from a top-five to a top-10.
10. Martin Truex Jr. – Unlike the other MWR cars, Truex had to battle his car to keep it in the top-10. He started sixth, but soon found himself out of the top-10 and logging laps in the top-15. Unlike other drivers, though, the fuel mileage gamble paid off for him and Truex was able to guide his No. 56 Toyota to a top-10 finish.
11. Brad Keselowski – Keselowski had the best handeling car of any of the 43 cars in the field on Saturday, but in a rare twist, the driver that is known for saving fuel, couldn’t do that tonight. Keselowski led the most laps and continually held off threats from Hamlin, Johnson and Biffle, but when the laps started to wind down, Keselowski had to make a pit stop, twice, for running out of fuel. He will leave with the points lead, but a weekend of fuel woes argubly cost him two wins.
12. Aric Almirola – Almirola started in the 17th position and made his way into the top-15 where he stayed for most of the night. The team kept adjusting on the car and Almirola was able to improve on his position and recorded another top-15 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
13. Tony Stewart – Stewart got heavy front end damage early on in the race on a restart when the field got bunched up. From there Stewart made several pit stops and got his car repaired to make a a strong top-15 run. His finishing positon was improved by the fuel mileage race at the end, and Stewart is able to stay in Championship talk with his top-15 finish.
14. Matt Kenseth – The race didn’t start, or finish, the way that Kenseth wanted. He started off the race with a spin to bring out the first caution. From there on Kenseth tried to work his way though the field and found himself in the top-15. However the fuel mileage race at the end caught up to Kenseth too and he had to pit to save fuel and that dropped him to his 14th place finish.
15. Sam Hornish Jr. – It was a very quiet night for the No. 22 Penske Dodge. While his teammate, Keselowski, was up front and contending for the win, Hornish was back in the pack trying to find a way to get into the top-10. He never did get inside the top-10 for any significant amount of time and he finished in 15th.
16. Kevin Harvick – Harvick had a fast car in both the practices and there was some talk that he could escape with a win. The handling of the car for Harvick never matched his speed and Harvick slipped back to his 16th place finishing position.
17. Jamie McMurray – A decade after getting his first win in the Sprint (then Winston) Cup Series, McMurray was hoping that he might be able to celebrate with another win. Handeling was an issue early in the race for McMurray, and when he had to save fuel over the last 25 laps, McMurray would finish up in the 17th position.
18. Jeff Gordon – His 18th place finish is not an accurate representation of where he ran for the entire night. Gordon easily had a top-15 car, but two things added to his poor finish. First was a pit stop just over halfway through the race in which Gordon received a speeding penalty, and then saving fuel at the end brought him back down a few positions as well. This is Gordon’s worse finish of the Chase since the opening race at Chicagoland.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya – Going back and fourth on changes to the car to fight various conditions the No. 42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet of Montoya spent much of the night in the top-20. When the fuel saving frenzy hit the field, Montoya came out as a winner, advancing his position a few to record a 19th place finish.
20. Ryan Newman – Newman was scheduled to start third, but he had to change enginges in happy hour and had to start in the rear of the field. Newman worked his way up through half of the field, but that was as far as he got, before clean air and the handeling of his car would go away. Newman tried to save fuel, but couldn’t stretch the fuel mileage race and he finished in the 20th position.
21. Kurt Busch – Making headlines for getting his first start with his 2013 team, Busch was able to stay in the top-20 and didn’t have anything go wrong with his car. Busch was more concerned with staying getting the lucky dog and back on the lead lap for much of the first half of the race, but after that he fell even further behind and finished with a quiet 21st place finish.
22. Trevor Bayne – If it wasn’t for looking at an entry list, it would be hard to know if Trevor Bayne was in the race or not. One of the quietest runs of his career, Bayne and the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford stayed in and around the top-20 for the entire race.
23. David Gilliland – According to tweets from the team’s account, (@FrontRowNASCAR) Gilliland started the weekend and race with a vibration that was unresolved and that never went away. Because of the vibration Gilliland and crew did their best to make changes to get the car to drive correctly, but handeling remained and issue, when the car crossed the line in the 23rd position.
24. A.J. Allmendinger – Making his first start since Kentucky, Allmendinger had a car that started off fast and he was able to drive it into the top-20 early in the race. Form then on the No. 51 Phoenix Racing crew just tried to keep the car in competitive, but handeling went away as did the fuel supply and Allmendinger fell to a top-25 finish.
25. Travis Kvapil – Kvapils car was tight for most of the night and especially on the last run. They made adjustments to the No. 93, but it just wouldn’t loosen up. Despite having a tight car, Kvapil finished the race in 25 th and recorded his 12 top-25 finish of the season.
26. Landon Cassill – The opposite of his teammate’s Kvapil’s car, Cassill had to battle a loose car for most of the night and his car just would not tighten up in the corners. Cassill would stay near his teammate for most of the race and finished one spot behind Kvapil.
27. Paul Menard – Menard had a very rough start to the night. A few laps into the race, Menard smacked the outside wall and pancaked the right side of his car. That resulted in his aerodynamics being thrown off and any speed that the car might have escaped. Menard’s crew was able to get the car repaired, but he just logged laps for most of the race.
28. Jeff Burton – Burton was a victim of a restart jumble and that ruined his night. The damage early led to several repairs that had to be made to the car. As a result, Burton logged laps and did his best to stay only a few laps down. He was able to gain positions at the end and finish 28th.
29. Casey Mears – Mears had a strong run going, but thanks to fuel mileage at the end of the race. He had to pit with 10 laps to go that ruined his previously strong top-25 run to a top-30 run on the night. Mears battled a shifter knob problem up until the final pit stop.
30. David Reutimann – Another one that fell into the category of needing enough fuel to get to the end, but not having enough. Reutimann pitted late for fuel and dropped a couple positions for the finishing order. He had a quiet night in the top-30 up until he pitted for fuel late.
31. Michael McDowell – McDowell had a quiet night inside the top-30 for most of the night before things started go south for the No. 98 Ford. He had to pit for handeling issues, but he still finished several laps down and in the 31st position.
32. Bobby Labonte – Labobnte had a fast car in the practice sessions and in qualifying, but the night for the former champion went away shortly before halfway when he had to pit because his car started hiccuping. He was able to get back out on track, but he was several laps down and even though he had speed, he stayed in the mid-30’s for most of the night.
33. Marcos Ambrose – Ambrose had a Ford that was fast enough to lead the race, and he was able to get out front of the field even for a few laps. Hoewever because his car was damaged on the restart after the first caution, Ambrose would eventually fall back in the pack and spend several laps behind the wall for repairs.
34. David Ragan – Ragan came into Charlotte with a bunch of momentum after his top-5 run at Talladega, but that quickly evaporated as his car was damaged in the opening laps when he was caught in another person’s wreck. From then on Ragan nursed his car around the 1.5 track and finished in 34th, several laps down.
35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Stenhouse was hoping for a race much like the one that he had in his Sprint Cup debut in 2011 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 where he had a top-15 run. However, the night and the car just didn’t go Stenhouse’s way and he had to retire from the race early with an engine issue.
36. Timmy Hill – Making his third Sprint Cup Series start, the 19-year-old, Hill was looking pretty competetive in the No. 32 Fas Lane Ford. However, just after halfway, Hill’s night went bad when his car lost power and the team had to retire from the race with an engine issue. It was still the best career finish for Hill though.
37. David Stremme – Stremme and the No. 30 Inception Motorsports team qualified in 31st to make the race. However their car went south during the race and after 62 laps the team had to call it a night because of a rear gear that broke.
38. Regan Smith – Smith had a lot of people watching him as he filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Smith didn’t have the best qualfying lap, but for the first part of the race, Smith’s lap times were some of the fastest in the field. They may have been a little too fast however, because his engine blew after 61 laps and the team had to finish in behind the wall.
38. Mike Bliss – Bliss had one of the fastest qualifying laps of all the go or go homers on Thursday night. Bliss and his team would make 53 circuits around the track before they called it a night and finished behind the wall.
40. Scott Speed – Speed and his team was really fast on Thursday night when they qualified in the 23rd position. However a rear gear ended their Bank of America 500 after 50 laps and they finished the night in the garage.
41. Reed Sorenson – Sorenson started dead last on the field and he and his No. 91 car stayed on the track for 32 laps before they pulled down pit road for the final time and finished the night in the garage.
42. J.J. Yeley – Brakes are not used that often at mile and a half tracks like Charlotte, however they are still needed. For Yeley and his team, however they lost brakes shortly after the green flag they had to retire from the race and finish in the 42nd position.
43. Dave Blaney – Blaney and his No. 36 Tommy Baldwin team were the first team to pull down pit road for the final time. Blaney and his team completed 25 laps around the 1.5 mile track and that was all the crowd would see of the No. 36 team.