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NASCAR Cup: Brad Keselowski wins at Atlanta

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2019 in Hampton, Georgia.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Brad Keselowski battled the stomach flu throughout the 2019 Atlanta Motor Speedway NASCAR weekend, even sitting out Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice on Saturday, but that didn’t keep the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford out of victory lane after the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday. The win was Keselowski’s 60th with Penske across the Cup and NASCAR Xfinity series, breaking a tie he held with legendary driver Mark Donohue for most wins with Team Penske across all forms of racing.

“I think any win means a lot, but that’s a big number,” Keselowski said. ”Now I get to wear that yellow Mark Donohue helmet. (Broadcaster Matt) Yocum has been on me about it. Now I can, Matt, so here we go; we’re going to wear it next week. But what a tremendous honor. This day is ‑‑ wow, I don’t even know how to put it in words. I’m just excited for this team, first race with the new rules or whatever they’re called now, and to be able to win it, that’s really special, as well, and I know everybody here is excited about that, and just a great day overall for Team Penske and our Ford Mustang.”

The win was the first for Ford’s new Mustang in the Cup Series.

All three manufacturers were represented in the top-three of the finishing order in the first race with some variation of NASCAR’s new aero rules package. Martin Truex Jr. finished second in a Toyota, and Kurt Busch drove his Chevrolet to third in his second race with Chip Ganassi Racing.

“It was great watching (CGR teammate Kyle) Larson up front. I knew I needed to drive harder to catch him,” Busch said. ”Our balance was a little bit looser, and then, the track came to us a little bit better at the end, so it was a good day for us to carry that banner (as the highest-finishing Chevrolet).”

Busch’s teammate Kyle Larson led a race-high 142 laps of the 325-lap race before a pit-road speeding penalty during a caution for a Kyle Busch right-rear tire issue on lap 222.

“The car handled really well until we got put in traffic, there, but even the #18 (Kyle Busch) seemed to struggle trying to get back to the front,” Larson said. “Yeah, dirty air was much worse than I thought it was. I spent most of the day up front, so once I got back there it was pretty crazy.”

Kyle Busch drove from the back toward the front twice during the race. He qualified sixth but started in the back in a backup car after wrecking in Saturday’s final practice. He got up to second before his tire problem and wound up sixth at the finish.

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer finished fourth and fifth. All four SHR drivers were in the top-10 at the checkered flag, with pole sitter Aric Almirola finishing eighth and Daniel Suarez 10th.

After Larson fell out of contention, the Penske trio of Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano ran at or near the front. Blaney took the lead with 95 laps to go and ran up front until a green-flag cycle of pit stops started with about 55 laps to go.

The yellow flag waved only twice for on-track or pit-road incidents. The final caution came with 52 laps remaining, with Logano and Kurt Busch being the only two drivers who didn’t pit under green and, therefore, the only two drivers on the lead lap. More than 20 cars took the wave-around to rejoin them on the lead lap.

Keselowski took second from Busch with 35 laps to go and, then, passed Logano for his race-winning lead with 33 to go. In the remaining laps, both of Keselowski’s teammates were forced to pit road with tire or wheel issues.

Larson won the first 85-lap stage of the race, and Kevin Harvick won the second stage that ended at lap 170.

After Almirola started on the pole and led all but one lap before a competition caution on lap 35, Larson got out of the pits first to take the lead.

After the opening stage, Harvick beat Larson off pit road after Larson’s crew had a problem with an airgun. Meanwhile, Almirola was penalized for speeding on pit road.

Larson retook his lead on lap 112. He and Harvick traded the lead back and forth in the final 20 laps of the second stage before Harvick took his stage-winning lead on lap 161.

Below, is the complete finishing order for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

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Posted by on February 25, 2019. 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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