KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski won in an overtime finish at Kansas Speedway for his third victory of the season and his first since 2011 at the 1.5-mile speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.
“Yeah, this was a great day, and that’s what I’ve been known for my whole career is just never give up,” Keselowski said in his victory lane interview. We were behind big time with just 40 or 50 to go. The yellow came out, we were on pit road, we were trapped a lapped down. We dug out of that hole, and then the restarts, a couple of opportunities, the holes were there, I took it, and it stuck. And the next thing I knew I was running second or third behind Alex Bowman. I was able to make just the right move at the right time to clear him. Alex was super, super strong, and he got a little tight off of Turn 2 and I had the run wall and glued to it and built this big run.”
The Digital Ally 400 was broken into 80/80/107 laps to make up the three stages.
Eleven drivers had failed post-qualifying inspection before the race started and had to line up at the back of the field which meant that several drivers moved up starting positions.
Stage 1 saw barely any incidents. There were was a competition caution on Lap 30 due to overnight rain. The first incident of the night took place on Lap 60 when Denny Hamlin spun off Turn 4 and had the crush panels pushed in. William Byron was penalized for removing equipment, a jack post, on pit road.
Before the stage ended, there was a range of leaders from Chase Elliott to Kevin Harvick. Harvick completely dominated the first stage and wound up winning Stage 1 after leading three times for 57 laps, nearly half the stage.
Stage 2 saw the same thing, but this time there was a little more strategy involved throughout the stage with drivers up front who were normally not up front. This included Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who were trying a different strategy, however, they eventually had to end up pitting.
There were no cautions throughout Stage 2 as it went clean the whole way with Elliott winning the second stage. Harvick wound up second with Jones third, Bowman fourth, Stenhouse fifth, Buescher sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Kyle Busch ninth and Kyle Larson rounding out the top 10 for Stage 2 which ended on lap 160.
The third and final stage began on lap 168, and the stage saw several more cautions.
On Lap 219, Ryan Newman’s tire went out into the grass and caught on fire. On Lap 221 during the pit stops, Kyle Busch was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes. After adding some additional laps to get the restart order correct, the green flag came out on Lap 228 with unique names like Bowman, Buescher, Stenhouse and Tyler Reddick up front. Another caution flew with 30 to go for debris in Turn 2.
There was intense side-by-side racing for the lead for 19 laps until the final caution came out with just seven laps to go for the No. 95 of Matt DiBenedetto who was leaking fluid in Turn 2.
This would eventually set up an overtime restart with just two laps to go. There were side-by-side battles with Stenhouse, Bowman and eventually Keselowski, who took the lead on Lap 261 and held on for the last 11 laps to win his third race of the season, his first since Martinsville.
Coming into the race, Keselowski had an idea what to expect during the race.
“It’s hard to say where it will go,” Keselowski said in regards to the rules package. “I feel like the season breaks down into thirds. Maybe I am repeating myself to some of the people in the room. You know, you have the first third, your second third, and the final part with the Playoffs, and with that in mind, Kansas to me is like the break to me in the first third of the season and the beginning of the middle stretch. I think we see things start to settle out by then at the end of the West Coast swing start of the season. There’s a lot that comes and goes, and you try to understand the rules; all the engineering behind it is a little bit tough.
“When we get to this part of the season, you really have to shine because this is what you got. So it’s nice to be able to win right here today, it’s always nice to win, but in light of those thoughts or beliefs I guess, it’s a good sign for us for sure.”
Keselowski led twice for 12 laps and earned five Playoff points.
Bowman, Erik Jones, Elliott, Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Larson, Reddick and Buescher rounded out the top-10 finishers.
There were seven cautions for 41 laps and 23 leaders among 12 lead changes.
Up Next: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads home next weekend to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the annual running of the All-Star Race.