BRISTOL, Tenn. — Wild card? How about a possible favorite?
Brad Keselowski took the lead on a restart with 79 laps left and held off Martin Truex to win Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The win is Keselowski's third of the Sprint Cup season, and he has finished first, second, third and first in his past four races — all since breaking his ankle last month in a testing crash.
"There are races that pay more and there are races that may have a little more prestige but this is the coolest one of them all," Keselowski told ESPN.
Jeff Gordon finished third, followed by Jimmie Johnson fourth and Jamie McMurray.
Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards all clinched spots in this year's NASCAR Chase for the Championship.
Gordon led 85 of the first 238 laps and was in front for 206 total on the 0.533-mile oval, almost twice as many as anyone else in the 500-lap race.
"I'm so proud of everyone on this team," said Paul Wolfe, Keselowski's crew chief. "To be able to have three wins now in this season from where we started the year just shows all the hard work that everybody has been doing back at the shop. … Everybody is doing their part ."
Kyle Busch, who won Friday night's Nationwide series race here, hit the wall on Lap 414 to bring out the sixth caution. During pit stops, Keselowski was the first car off pit road and took over the lead.
"This is a race that Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt win," he said. "This is a race of champions. I can't believe it."
Gordon passed Matt Kenseth to take the lead on Lap 326, and remained out front for 38 laps before Kenseth retook the spot. Gordon passed Kenseth on a restart on Lap 372 to lead again.
Kenseth finished sixth and moved up two spots to third in points.
The top 10 in points plus the two drivers ranked 11-20 with the most wins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond make the Chase. Keselowski was 21st in the standings before his accident at Road Atlanta.
Denny Hamlin, clinging to the second wildcard, was seventh despite Paul Menard running into the back of his car to cause serious damage. Pole-sitter Ryan Newman was eighth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (16th) and Tony Stewart (28th) stayed in the last two automatic Chase qualifying spots despite their mediocre finishes.
BOWYER OFFER: Richard Petty Motorsports majority owner Andrew Murstein said Saturday in an interview on Sirius XM Radio that his team has made a contract offer to Clint Bowyer, whose deal at Richard Childress Racing is expiring at the end of the season.