In an unlikely finish, the Bank of America 500 came down to fuel efficiency. Clint Bowyer made sure he had enough gas to make a move.
Bowyer took home the Bank of America crown, while his Sprint Cup competitors had to make pit stops and relinquish the lead.
Denny Hamlin, in particular, had a chance to challenge Bowyer in the final laps, but claimed to have trouble managing his fuel on the TV broadcast. The No. 11 car finished in second place, 15 points out of the Sprint Cup championship lead.
Sprint Cup leader Brad Keselowski had the same problem as Hamlin. He held the lead for 147 laps, more than any other driver, but surrendered it with less than 100 laps to go.
ESPN’s Marty Smith provided the play-by-play as the scene progressed:
Yes. Brad Keselowski ran out of gas but coasted around the track and into the pits. Lap-276. They packed it full on pit lane.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) October 14, 2012
Ultimately, Keselowski ran out of gas on Lap 276, kicking himself out of contention in Charlotte. At the end of the day, he still held the Sprint Cup lead, but the 11th-place finish was his worst this season.
Jimmie Johnson claimed to have fuel issues as well. The No. 48 car settled for a third-place finish. Considering his season on the whole, he has to be pleased with being only seven points behind Keselowski for the Sprint Cup lead.
Save for Bowyer, all of these Sprint Cup championship contenders need to shore up their gas mileage issues. Otherwise, another driver with a more alert pit crew will find a way to sneak a championship win.
There are five races to go; that’s a lot of points up for grabs.
Check out the Sprint Cup standings here.