NASCAR Charlotte results 2012: Clint Bowyer wins fuel-mileage race Saturday night

Saving fuel over the final 56 laps of the closing green-flag run, Clint Bowyer snookered his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rivals by winning Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bowyer, who won for the third time this season, beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line by .417 seconds. Jimmie Johnson, who like Hamlin and Bowyer was saving fuel over the final run, came home third. The top three finishers trimmed a significant portion off Brad Keselowski's series lead.

Keselowski ran out of fuel before his final pit stop and finished 11th. Keselowski leads Johnson by seven points and third-place Hamlin by 15 at the midpoint of the Chase. Bowyer climbed to fourth in the standings, 28 points back.

Greg Biffle ran fourth, Kyle Busch fifth and Mark Martin sixth, as only six cars finished on the lead lap

Keselowski gained track position by pitting under the first caution on Lap 12 and then staying out when the rest of the lead-lap cars came to pit road under the third yellow on Lap 37. From Lap 42 through Lap 166, the race ran caution-free, and when NASCAR threw the fourth yellow for debris in Turn 1 on Lap 166, the caution restored all the lead-lap cars to the same tire cycle.

All except Johnson, that is. Curiously, Johnson was the only driver to take two tires (right sides) as opposed to four during pit stops on Lap 168. The No. 48 Chevrolet restarted the race in the lead on lap 173, but Johnson quickly lost six spots to cars with fresher rubber.

With a three-wide move to the outside on the restart, Biffle took the top spot, but his stint at the point was short-lived. Keselowski slipped past Biffle on lap 180, pulling Hamlin with him, and began logging laps at the front of the field.

A debris caution interrupted the proceedings on lap 223, but it didn't deter Keselowski, who led the field to a restart on Lap 228 and began to pull away from Kyle Busch. Johnson and Hamlin came to pit road to top off their fuel cells under the caution - whereas Keselowski did not.

Ultimately, that cost the driver of the No. 2 Dodge, who ran one lap too many before his next stop and ran out of fuel before getting back to pit road on Lap 276. Keselowski's car stalled in the pit box, and by the time he was back up to racing speed, he was 13th in the running order.

Johnson and Hamlin pitted on Laps 279 and 280, respectively, and were confident they could make it to the checkered flag without stopping again. They did - but so did Bowyer.

Here are the full results from Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte:

  1. Clint Bowyer
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Greg Biffle
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Carl Edwards
  8. Kasey Kahne
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Martin Truex Jr.
  11. Brad Keselowski
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Tony Stewart
  14. Matt Kenseth
  15. Sam Hornish Jr.
  16. Kevin Harvick
  17. Jamie McMurray
  18. Jeff Gordon
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Ryan Newman
  21. Kurt Busch
  22. Trevor Bayne
  23. David Gilliland
  24. AJ Allmendinger
  25. Travis Kvapil
  26. Landon Cassill
  27. Paul Menard
  28. Jeff Burton
  29. Casey Mears
  30. David Reutimann
  31. Michael McDowell
  32. Bobby Labonte
  33. Marcos Ambrose
  34. David Ragan
  35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  36. Timmy Hill
  37. David Stremme
  38. Regan Smith
  39. Mike Bliss
  40. Scott Speed
  41. Reed Sorenson
  42. JJ Yeley
  43. Dave Blaney
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