Brad Keselowski passed Kyle Busch in the closing laps and denied the reigning series champion a weekend sweep in his hometown.
The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford got a run on the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota going down the backstretch with five laps to go in the Kobalt 400 and drove on to score the victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He had to overcome being busted for speeding and staying out with less than 50 laps to go to score his 18th career victory in the Sprint Cup Series.
“This rules package — I love it, it’s awesome,” Keselowski said. “You can be really fast at the start of the run or at the end of the run, but we had awesome speed at the end of the run. It finally started to take off with 25 to go. This is such a good feeling to be back in victory lane. It’s been way too long. What a day, I’m beat. I put everything I had into driving this car.”
Teammate Joey Logano led 75 laps on his way to a runner-up finish in his No. 22 Ford.
“We had a good car,” a disappointed Logano said. “We led a lot of laps. Brad was just really good on the long run. I tried to hold him off as long as I could but he showed how fast he was getting by me and Kyle and checking out. Congratulations to Team Penske. It is something to be very proud of for our team. We have a lot of second place finishes already this year. I know we are only three races in but I am getting antsy. We have good speed in our cars, we will be alright.”
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps at 76 on his way to rounding out the podium in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Busch was in the catbird seat in the closing laps of the race but dealt with a right-front tire vibration he described as “coming apart” in the closing laps. He was unable to hold off the Team Penske duo and finished fourth. Austin Dillon also overcame a speeding penalty to round out the top-five in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
Ryan Blaney was the highest finishing rookie in sixth in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
“This was really satisfying,” Blaney said after the race. “It was a good day for us. We needed a good finish after last week and it is nice to go out here and we all had fast cars. Congrats to the 2 team, they did a great job coming back from that speeding penalty and made a great call at the end. Good job by them and good job by our team.”
Last year’s race winner Kevin Harvick led only one lap and was never a factor for the win as he finished seventh in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished eighth in his No. 88 HMS Chevrolet. Pole-sitter Kurt Busch was busted for speeding on the first pit stop of the race and was only able to rally back to a ninth-place finish in his No. 41 SHR Chevrolet. Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-10 in his No. 5 HMS Chevrolet.
Matt Kenseth had a strong car for most of the race, but his streak of bad finishes continued today as he crashed out of the race with 43 laps to go. He got loose going into Turn 1, slid up the track and Chase Elliott slammed into the rear of his car.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Kenseth told Fox. “I just turned off in there and spun off before I honestly knew what was happening. I don’t know why it spun out. I tried to save it the best I could and just got hit hard from behind and ended up wrecking it.”
“Just disappointing,” Elliott said. “What a fast race car. Just a terrible job on my behalf. It’s pitiful. Run three races and finished one. Bad job on my end. I know better to miss a wreck like that.”
Twenty-three cars finished on the lead lap. There were 20 lead changes among 10 different drivers and six cautions for 36 laps. The race lasted two hours, 53 minutes and 55 seconds at an average speed of 138.170 mph.
Kyle Busch retains the points lead leaving Las Vegas with Johnson trailing by six. Harvick (-7), Logano (-12) and Kurt Busch (-14) round out the top five in the standings.