Concord, NC (Sports Network) - Clint Bowyer gained ground in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship by winning Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Bowyer, who is in his first season driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, conserved enough fuel late in the 500-mile race and then barely held off Denny Hamlin at the finish to claim his third win of the season and the eighth of his Sprint Cup Series career.
Brad Keselowski, the current points leader, led the most laps with 140, but during a round of green-flag pit stops with 60 laps remaining, Keselowski ran out of fuel as he coasted onto pit road. His 22-second stop cost him valuable track position, as he went from being the leader to running outside the top-10.
Bowyer, who had complained about the performance of his car earlier in the race, benefited from pit strategy as he made his last stop with 58 laps left. He took the lead for good with 24 laps to go when the other frontrunners were forced to pit for gas.
Hamlin chased down Bowyer in the closing laps, but Bowyer crossed the finish line by 0.4 seconds for the win. He ran out of fuel during his cool-down lap.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, while Greg Biffle, the pole sitter, and Kyle Busch, who is not in this year's Chase, rounded out the top-five.
Despite an 11th-place finish, Keselowski remained atop the championship standings. Johnson trimmed Keselowski's lead from 14 points to seven. Hamlin trails by 15 points.
Bowyer is now 28 points out of the lead. He entered this race 40 markers behind.
Regan Smith, who substituted for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, suffered engine failure on lap 62 and ended up finishing 38th. Earnhardt Jr. sustained a concussion during last weekend's last-lap crash at Talladega and will miss at least two races. Smith will also drive the car in next week's race at Kansas Speedway.