Brad Keselowski Wins Playoff Race in Las Vegas For Third-Straight NASCAR Victory
The 2012 NASCAR champion gave car owner Roger Penske his 500th win across all forms of motorsport Sunday in the South Point Hotel & Casino 400.
Brad Keselowski kicked off the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a win in the South Point Hotel & Casino 400. It was Keselowski’s third-consecutive win, stretching back to the final pair of regular season races in Darlington and Indianapolis.
Keselowski’s win Sunday was team owner Roger Penske’s 500th win across all forms of motorsport. Team Penske commemorated the milestone with all three of its cars in the top-five of the finishing order. Keselowski’s teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“What a special day for 500 wins for Penske, three in a row here, first win in the playoffs,” Keselowski said. ”There are too many storylines for me to get it all right, but we’re very thankful and very proud for all of them.”
Keselowski took his final lead of the race just before a 10th caution that came out with 14 laps remaining in the 267-lap scheduled distance. The race, though, was extended by an overtime restart that followed a 12th caution for a multi-car incident that involved playoff driver Kurt Busch, among several others.
“I didn’t think it was ever gonna end,” Keselowski said. “I was worried about running out of gas there at the end. I know the fans can hear on this microphone, and I want to say thank you to everyone who braved 100-degree heat all day. You guys are the real heroes. I get paid to do this. You guys pay to watch, and thank you for doing that. Thank you for coming out today and tolerating the heat. We’re so glad to be able to win and get in victory lane, again, with the Autotrader Ford.”
Kyle Larson finished second after trouble early in the race. He made an unscheduled pit stop from the third position for a flat right-front tire with seven laps remaining in the first 80-lap stage. He went a lap down as a result of the extra stop, but when the caution came at the end of the opening stage, he stayed out and took a wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
Larson got back to the front with a pit strategy of staying out at the end of the second stage after pitting during another caution a few laps earlier.
Other playoff drivers also had problems. Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones were credited with the final two finishing positions after wrecking together on Lap 147 after which both drivers retired from the race.
“Well, there was something wrong from the time we put the tires on,” Harvick said. “It was like Russian Roulette every time you put these piece of crap tires on and try to drive around the race track. One time it is tight; one time it is loose; one time they are blistered. We had a great car, and then, you put a set of tires on it, and you can’t hardly make it through the field. I just hate it for everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford.”
Another playoff driver, Chase Elliott, was collected by a Jamie McMurray spin on Lap 213. Like Harvick and Jones before him, the incident resulted in Elliott’s early retirement from the race.
“I’m assuming that the right rear tire must have rubbed a hole in it [tire], and I don’t know why I chose to run the bottom on that lap,” McMurray said. “I wish I had stayed against the wall. But sometimes those look big, but it actually didn’t hurt that bad. It was a big day for Gearwrench. They actually gave away a new Camaro to a customer. We’ve had a great week. I had a good car. I’ve had a good car for the last three weeks, so that’s unfortunate.”
Denny Hamlin spun to bring out the ninth caution of the race on Lap 246. Three more playoff drivers, Clint Bowyer and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, each made contact with the wall in the final 10 laps of the race.
Playoff drivers took the top seven positions in the finishing order, with Kyle Busch claiming seventh. Before getting inside the top-10 for the checkered flag, Busch also had his struggles. A slow pit stop during a Lap 112 caution put Busch back in 24th for a restart. Then, he made an extra stop during a yellow flag on Lap 213 and restarted 25th with 45 laps remaining.
Daniel Suarez was the highest-finishing non-playoff driver in eighth. Jamie McMurray held that distinction prior to his spin after starting the race in 12th, highest among non-playoff drivers.
Martin Truex Jr. and Keselowski were the two stage winners, with Truex winning the second stage at Lap 80 and Keselowski leading when the second stage ended at Lap 160. Truex finished third after leading a race-high 96 laps of the 272-lap race.
SOUTH POINT HOTEL & CASINO 400 RESULTS:
1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford
2. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet
3. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota
4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford
5. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
6. Aric Almirola, No. 10 Ford
7. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
8. Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Toyota
9. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet
10. Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford
11. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet
12. Regan Smith, No. 95 Chevrolet
13. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford
14. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet
15. Chris Buescher, No. 37 Chevrolet
16. Corey LaJoie, No. 72 Chevrolet
17. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota
18. Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet
19. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet
20. Ross Chastain, No. 15 Chevrolet
21. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Ford
22. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
23. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford
24. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford
25. Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 96 Toyota
26. Kyle Weatherman, No. 99 Chevrolet
27. David Ragan, No. 38 Ford
28. B.J. McLeod, No. 51 Ford
29. Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford
30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford
31. Reed Sorenson, No. 7 Chevrolet
32. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
33. Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota
34. Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet
35. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet
36. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet
37. William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet
38. Darrell Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevrolet
39. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford
40. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota
UP NEXT: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will go night racing at Richmond Raceway in Virginia on Sept. 22. It’ll be the middle race of the opening three-race round of the 10-race playoffs. Kyle Larson is the defending winner of the fall race at Richmond, but Kyle Busch won there when the series ran at the track in April.