BRISTOL, Tenn. - Brad Keselowski believes Bristol Motor Speedway tests a race team like no other.
If so, Keselowski and his No. 2 Penske Racing team passed with flying colors.
Keselowski held off a furious charge by Matt Kenseth over the final 111 of 500 laps - slowed once by a late-race caution - to win Sunday's Food City 500, his first Sprint Cup Series win of the season and second consecutive at the half-mile concrete oval.
"This place defines a race team. It asks so much of you - whether it's just in practice, being lined up on pit road, dealing with the noise, the havoc that practice can be or the hot day of getting through tech (inspection), making those last adjustments or as a driver 500 laps in a bowl trying to keep your composure," Keselowski said.
"This race track can really test a team. I think the teams that come out on top, whether it's a driver or whatever, I think they show that they've got what it takes to overcome adversity."
That was certainly the case Sunday.
But his team checked over his No. 2 Dodge on pit road and he escaped the incident without any serious issues.
By the last half of the race, it was clear Sunday's outcome would likely be decided between Kenseth and Keselowski.
As the laps wound down, Keselowski was desperately trying to hold off Kenseth, believing if Kenseth got by, he would not have a chance to get back by him.
On Lap 478, Tony Stewart hit the wall on in Turn 3 and it became decision-time for many teams. Some needed fuel, some tires and some - like Keselowski's - were left wondering whether to even come down pit road.
In the end, four teams stayed out - Keselowski, Kenseth, Vickers and Martin Truex Jr.
While it appeared Kenseth might have a shot at the win with a restart with 17 laps remaining, Keselowski quickly put distance on Kenseth and was never seriously challenged before earning his fifth series win.
"We had a bit of body damage early on in the race, got it fixed," Keselowski said. "Nobody panicked. It's tough racing that requires so much discipline mixed in with some aggression, obviously. I told somebody before the race that this was the best race car I've ever had in Cup. It showed off today. Hopefully, we can have more cars like this and we'll win more races and continue to move the needle forward."
Truex finished third, Clint Bowyer was fourth and Vickers fifth as Michael Waltrip Racing placed all three teams in the top-five for the first time this season.
Greg Biffle, who started on the pole and finished 13th, remains the series points leader, holding a nine-point advantage over Kenseth.
"I couldn't run on the bottom (of the track) and Brad was really strong on the bottom of (Turns) 1 and 2. It was weird," Kenseth said. "Most cars as they get 20 or 30 laps on their tires they all run fairly high.
"Brad, if he wanted to, could run right across the apron in (Turns) 1 and 2. I was thinking I could run outside of him but he would roll through there so fast you could never get a run on him." Vickers, who has been without a ride until he agreed to a six-race deal with MWR in the last week, left a good impression in his first outing of the 2012 season.
"It felt really good when we were out there leading. It would have been awesome to hold onto that, but's it's the first time back so I can't complain about that," he said. "I can't thank Michael Waltrip and Rob Kaufmann (co-owner) and everyone at MWR enough. I don't know those two guys that well, but I can tell a lot about them by the group of people they've built and the team they've built.
"It's an incredible organization."