Wednesday June 19th, 2024 12:40AM

Brad Keselowski breaks 110-race drought with dramatic Darlington win

By Reid Spencer NASCAR Wire Service

DARLINGTON, S.C. — A combination of stubbornness and patience paid off handsomely for Brad Keselowski on Sunday at Darlington Raceway, where the driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford ended a 110-race winless streak with victory in the Goodyear 400.

Keselowski’s triumph, which came at the expense of hard-luck teammate Chris Buescher and pole winner Tyler Reddick, gave the Ford Dark Horse Mustang its first NASCAR Cup Series victory this season in 13 races and led to a heated exchange between Beuscher and Reddick on pit road after the fact.

It was also Keselowski’s first win as a principal in RFK Racing, his second at Darlington and the 36th of his career.

“What a heck of a day,” exulted Keselowski, who finished 1.214 seconds ahead of runner-up Ty Gibbs. “It’s Darlington, so whether it’s your first win, your last win, this is a really special track. The history of NASCAR, it’s as tough as it gets, and that battle at the end with my teammate and Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all out on the line, it was freaking awesome.

“I thought it couldn’t get much better than Kansas. It did today. That was awesome. I’m so glad you guys got to see that (addressed to the fans). That was incredible. Thanks for being here.”

Keselowski was stubborn in the way he raced Reddick after the final restart on Lap 261 of 293, aggressively staying beside the No. 45 Toyota and running him up the track in Turn 3.

For four straight laps, Keselowski and Reddick battled side-by-side, allowing Buescher to slip past into the lead at the start/finish line on Lap 264. Reddick cleared Keselowski shortly thereafter and took off in pursuit of Buescher.

That’s when Keselowski exercised patience as stayed within striking distance, waiting for the drama that unfolded ahead of him.

On Lap 284, Reddick’s ill-timed bid for the lead went awry, and his No. 45 Camry slid up the track into Buescher’s Ford, pinning it against the outside wall in Turn 4. Both cars were damaged and unable to maintain pace, and Keselowski charged into the lead on Lap 285.

Buescher, still smarting from last week’s loss to Kyle Larson at Kansas in the closest finish in Cup Series history (0.001 seconds), confronted Reddick on pit road after the drivers climbed from their cars.

“We got wrecked,” Buescher said later. “That one’s clear as day. Don’t need any cameras to tell us. I don’t know what to say. We’ve raced really clean through the years, tried to be really respectful about it, and we get used up.

“It (Reddick’s move) is just something that you know is not going to work. I’m just really pissed off about it right now. We certainly had a chance to win another one. I’m proud to have that speed. Just huge congratulations to Brad and the 6 bunch on their win. That’s awesome, but I wanted it for our group right here.”

Reddick took responsibility for the incident and punctuated his conversation with Buescher with the words “I know. I (screwed) up—I’m sorry.”

Reddick elaborated after he and Buescher separated.

“I completely understand where he is coming from,” Reddick said. “He was running the top, running his own race, running his own line to keep me at bay. I made a really aggressive move and was hoping I was going to clear him. When I realized I wasn’t going to, I tried to check up to not slide up into him, but, yeah, I wish I wouldn’t have done that.

“I completely understand why he is that mad. He did nothing wrong. Just trying to win the race, and to take myself out—that’s one thing—I can live with that, but just disappointed it played out the way that it did, and I took him out of the race as well.”

All but lost in the late-race drama was Gibbs’ career-best second-place finish. The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also finished second in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2 behind respective stage winners Kyle Larson and Reddick.

Josh Berry finished third in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, followed by Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe. William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley and Michael McDowell completed the top 10.

Hamlin led one lap during a cycle of green-flag pit stops in the final stage, extending his streak of consecutive races with at least one lap led to 17.

Larson (34th on Sunday after a late-race crash) leads the series standings by 30 points over Martin Truex Jr., who finished 25th after suffering alternator issues.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Goodyear 400

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Sunday, May 12, 2024

(2)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 293.
(4)  Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 293.
(33)  Josh Berry #, Ford, 293.
(7)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 293.
(13)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 293.
(5)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 293.
(8)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 293.
(18)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 293.
(28)  Justin Haley, Ford, 293.
(16)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 293.
(9)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 293.
(31)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 293.
(12)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 293.
(36)  Noah Gragson, Ford, 293.
(15)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 293.
(24)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 293.
(26)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 293.
(34)  Kaz Grala #, Ford, 293.
(30)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 293.
(25)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 293.
(14)  Joey Logano, Ford, 293.
(35)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 293.
(20)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 293.
(19)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 293.
(10)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 293.
(21)  Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 293.
(11)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 293.
(23)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 293.
(32)  Derek Kraus, Chevrolet, 292.
(3)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 291.
(22)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 291.
(1)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 291.
(29)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 290.
(6)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 252.
(27)  Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, Accident, 161.
(17)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, DVP, 129.
 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  124.75 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 12 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.214 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 38 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Reddick 1-37;B. Wallace 38-43;R. Blaney 44;T. Gibbs 45-78;K. Larson 79-93;B. Keselowski 94;T. Reddick 95-225;B. Keselowski 226-237;W. Byron 238-239;D. Hamlin 240;C. Hocevar # 241-242;B. Keselowski 243-256;T. Reddick 257-261;B. Keselowski 262;T. Reddick 263;C. Buescher 264-284;B. Keselowski 285-293.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Tyler Reddick 4 times for 174 laps; Brad Keselowski 5 times for 37 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 34 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 21 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 15 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 6 laps; William Byron 1 time for 2 laps; Carson Hocevar # 1 time for 2 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,54,6,45,19,38,17,12,24,23

Stage #2 Top Ten: 45,6,54,22,5,24,17,11,23,1

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup, Top Sports Stories
  • Associated Tags: nascar, NASCAR Cup Series
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