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NASCAR Cup: Brad Keselowski scores third-straight win

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 16: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Autotrader Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series SouthPoint 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Brad Keselowski went winless through the first 24 races of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but he embarked on a winning streak on race 25, the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Add to that a Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and on Sunday, Keselowski claimed a third-straight checkered flag with his win of the South Point Hotel & Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Not only was Keselowski’s latest win a continuation of his winning streak, it also was the 500th win for car owner Roger Penske across all forms of motorsports and ensured Keselowski advancement to the second round of the playoffs after two more races at Richmond (Va.) Raceway and at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.

“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 also was joined in the top-five by Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney to give Penske three finishes inside the top-five. Logano and Blaney finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

“The restarts, a couple of them, worked out for me and a couple of them didn’t,” Larson said. But was happy to end up second, there. Didn’t really expect to get to second, there, on that final restart, but it was pretty hectic. Just glad we had a good day after the tire issue we had early in the race.  So, yeah, good points day.”

Kyle Larson finished second, and Martin Truex Jr. was third after leading a race-high 96 laps.

Larson made an unscheduled pit stop from the third position for a flat right-front tire just past lap 70. He went a lap down, 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. He got back to the front by staying out at the end of the second stage that ended at lap 160 after pitting under yellow a few laps earlier.

Truex and Keselowski were winners of the two 80-lap stages that made up the first 160 laps of the race that was scheduled for 267 laps but extended by a 12th caution that sent the race into overtime for a complete race distance of 272 laps.

“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.”

The final caution on lap 266 was the result of a multi-car crash that involved playoff driver Kurt Busch, among several other drivers.

Keselowski took his final lead of the race just before the 10th caution that came on lap 253. In all, the eventual race winner led 75 laps.

Busch wasn’t the only playoff driver to suffer at least one problem in Vegas. Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones wrecked together on lap 147 and became the first two drivers to retire 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 when Jamie McMurray spun on lap 213. As a result, Elliott joined Harvick and Jones in the garage.

“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.”

After the incident, Elliott complained to his team via radio communication of pain in his shoulder. But after he exited the LVMS infield care center, he reported he was fine.

“I guess it just got caught in the wheel,” Elliott said. “But it popped really big, and then, I kind of got stopped and got to messing with it ,and it popped really big again, so all good now, and we’ll try to rebound next week.”

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 claimed the top-seven positions in the finishing order with the last of two of those seven belonging to Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch. He got back inside the top-10 after a slow stop during a lap-112 caution and an extra stop during a lap-213 caution both put him outside the top-20 for restarts.

The other three top-10 finishing spots were claimed by non-playoff drivers. Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard finished eighth through 10th.

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.

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Posted by on September 17, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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