DARLINGTON, SC — Brad Keselowski took advantage of the final caution in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, winning the race off pit road to ultimately claim the trophy.
It was the break he needed, leading the remaining 22 laps and driving the No. 2 Ford to victory lane for his first win of the season, his 25th Monster Energy Cup Series victory and Team Penske’s 498th win, the first at the 1.366-mile track since 1975 when Bobby Allison swept both races.
Keselowski was excited to win one of the series crown jewels, particularly in the Rusty Wallace scheme he ran in honor of the Throwback weekend.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew,” he said. “We were running second and that last stop they nailed it and got us out in the lead. I thought Kyle (Larson) was really good, and he was flat-out flying. I know how it goes. In 2015 we led a bunch of laps and lost it on the last pit stop and today my team won it on the last pit stop. Then it was just about me hitting all my marks and not screwing it up.
“How cool is this winning in Rusty Wallace’s Throwback car, the Southern 500, Throwback Weekend?”
Rusty Wallace was almost as thrilled as Keselowski, joining in the celebration.
“It means a lot to me, it really does,” Wallace said.” The last time we won with this paint scheme, we won the Coke 600 and the Sears Point race out in California with this paint scheme. This was Miller Brewing Company’s return to NASCAR. So, when I saw that he was gonna run this scheme I got really excited, obviously, and I felt like I was watching my own kid tonight.
Penske teammate, Joey Logano, finished second after leading 18 laps late in the race.
“We had a good car,” said Logano. “We were like a third-place car and whether it was a short run or a long run it didn’t really matter. We made some adjustments there at the end to take off a little bit better, but I didn’t get by the 42 in time to try to run down the 2. We were just matching lap times, so I couldn’t catch him enough. I was just hoping lap traffic would screw it up enough to try to catch him, but one-two for Team Penske, that’s pretty cool. Brad sweeping the weekend, that’s awesome for him to do at Darlington. That’s no easy feat, so congratulations to them.
Kyle Larson finished third after leading 284 laps and was clearly disappointed. He is winless this season after a career-high four wins in 2017.
“It stings for sure to not get a win in a prestigious race like this,” he said. “I want to win every race but I want to win the Southern 500 really bad so it would have been cool to win that but at the same time, to bring a car to the race track like we did this weekend is something to be proud of and a big confidence booster going into the next 11 weeks.”
Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five finishers at Darlington Raceway. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Denny Hamlin finished sixth -10th, respectively.
Fourteen drivers are now locked into the Playoffs with only one more regular season race next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those drivers are Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Keselowski, Logano, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Jones, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Larson, Hamlin and Aric Almirola. Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman will lock themselves into the final two Playoff positions if there isn’t a new winner at Indianapolis who is currently below the 16-driver cutoff line.
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