Team Penske duo deny Larson in Darlington

Speedcafe.com

Monday 3rd September, 2018 - 4:39pm

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Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski has led home Team Penske team-mate Joey Logano to win the Darlington NASCAR Cup Series race as long-time leader Kyle Larson finished third.

While Larson won both Stages 1 and 2, and led 284 of the 367 laps of the Bojangles’ Southern 500, the last round of pit stops proved decisive when Keselowski just got the nose of his #2 Ford ahead of the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet exiting pit lane.

Denny Hamlin had qualified on pole and headed the first 11 laps in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota before Larson took over a lead which he would not relinquish, even with pit stops, before the end of the 100-lap stage.

Erik Jones (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) took the green/white chequered flag 3.77s back in second position, from Martin Truex Jnr (#78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota), Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford), and Keselowski, while Hamlin was seventh.

All on the lead lap pitted in the break and Logano restarted alongside Larson, who maintained first position, after Jones was penalised for an errant tyre during the stops.

Truex Jnr passed Logano on the restart and took over top spot on pit lane during a Caution caused when Joey Gase (#23 BK Racing Toyota) found the wall on Lap 127 after a touch from Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota).

Kevin Harvick (#4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), sixth at the restart, passed Larson for second on Lap 136, but Larson regained the spot on Lap 158 and was back into the lead two laps later when he got under Car #78.

A cycle of green flag pit stops began on Lap 163 but Larson and Harvick were not among them.

Truex Jnr, who had by then lost second position to Harvick, pitted on Lap 169 but he too was slapped with a penalty for an uncontrolled tyre.

The defending champion lost two laps in the process and while he got one back, he missed out on the free pass when Larson lapped Austin Dillon (#3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) as they crossed the control line at the very end of the stage.

Keselowski finished Stage 2 in second, more than 11 seconds in arrears, from Logano, Chase Elliott (#9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), and Jones, while Harvick faded to 10th and Truex Jnr was 16th.

When they lined up for the start of the final stage, Larson led Logano, Elliott, Keselowski, and Jones, before Elliott passed Logano upon the green flag.

Larson was around five seconds to the good when he made his next pit stop on Lap 259, but Logano shook out in the lead at the end of the cycle from Harvick, Kurt Busch (#41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Clint Bowyer (#14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), and Larson.

Having allowed himself to be undercut, Larson was soon on the comeback trail and picked off Harvick to take second position on Lap 272.

He caught Logano half a dozen laps later and made light work of the #22 Ford to reclaim first position.

On Lap 311, Bowyer nailed Ryan Newman’s #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet as the latter slowed to enter pit lane, bringing about a Caution.

With others having pitted under green flag in the laps prior, only Larson, Keselowski, and Logano were on the lead lap at the time they came into the lane under Caution.

Elliott, Jones, Kyle Busch, and Hamlin were given wavearounds under Caution and filed in behind Larson, Keselowski, and Logano, and fourth-placed Harvick, in that order.

The race restarted on Lap 322 but came under yellow flags seven laps later for debris, and those on the lead lap pitted again.

Larson led Logano, Keselowski, Elliott, and Harvick at the restart, while a free pass for Kurt Busch made for eight cars on the lead lap.

The critical Caution came on Lap 343 when Jeffrey Earnhardt spun in the #96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota.

Keselowski, Larson, and Logano came off pit lane overlapping but the former had his nose in front and they filed into position in that order, with Harvick fourth and Jones fifth.

Logano tried to overhaul Larson when the race restarted on Lap 348 and while he was unsuccessful on that occasion, he made the move stick three laps later.

Keselowski’s 1.22s win was his first of the season (not including the season-opening Clash exhibition race), while Larson is winless despite seven podiums in 2018.

Harvick finished fourth, ahead of Elliott, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jones, Jamie McMurray (#1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Hamlin.

Truex Jnr was home in 11th position having finally got the free pass during the last Caution, while Aric Almirola joined Hamlin in sealing a place in the playoffs by finishing 14th in the #10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

Jimmie Johnson is one of two in danger of losing their playoff berth in the final race of the regular season after an oil pump issue in his #48 Henrick Motorsports Chevrolet consigned him to 39th and not running at the finish.

Kyle Busch is favoured to win the regular season when it wraps up with the Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this coming weekend (September 7-9 local time).

Race highlights

Results: Bojangles’ Southern 500, Darlington Raceway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 367 24 Running
2 22 Joey Logano Ford 367 18 Running
3 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 367 284 Running
4 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 367 0 Running
5 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 367 0 Running
6 41 Kurt Busch Ford 367 0 Running
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 367 0 Running
8 20 Erik Jones Toyota 367 0 Running
9 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 367 0 Running
10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 367 11 Running
11 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 367 30 Running
12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 367 0 Running
13 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 367 0 Running
14 10 Aric Almirola Ford 367 0 Running
15 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 367 0 Running
16 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 367 0 Running
17 21 Paul Menard Ford 366 0 Running
18 38 David Ragan Ford 366 0 Running
19 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 366 0 Running
20 34 Michael McDowell Ford 365 0 Running
21 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 365 0 Running
22 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 365 0 Running
23 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 365 0 Running
24 95 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 364 0 Running
25 6 Matt Kenseth Ford 364 0 Running
26 43 Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 363 0 Running
27 72 Corey LaJoie Chevrolet 360 0 Running
28 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 360 0 Running
29 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 358 0 Running
30 00 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 357 0 Running
31 52 JJ Yeley Chevrolet 350 0 Running
32 51 BJ McLeod Chevrolet 347 0 Running
33 99 Derrike Cope Chevrolet 346 0 Running
34 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt Toyota 344 0 Running
35 24 William Byron Chevrolet 329 0 Engine
36 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 309 0 Crash
37 66 Timmy Hill Toyota 268 0 Engine
38 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 254 0 Rear end
39 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 227 0 Oil pump
40 23 Joey Gase Toyota 120 0 Crash

Standings

Pos Driver Pts Gap Starts Wins Playoff pts
1 Kyle Busch 1038   25 6 35
2 Kevin Harvick 999 -39 25 7 40
3 Martin Truex Jnr 883 -155 25 4 27
4 Kurt Busch 835 -203 25 1 7
5 Joey Logano 818 -220 25 1 8
6 Brad Keselowski 785 -253 25 1 9
7 Kyle Larson 783 -255 25 0 2
8 Clint Bowyer 777 -261 25 2 10
9 Ryan Blaney 755 -283 25 0 5
10 Denny Hamlin 738 -300 25 0 2
11 Chase Elliott 737 -301 25 1 8
12 Aric Almirola 681 -357 25 0 1
13 Erik Jones 679 -359 25 1 5
14 Jimmie Johnson 605 -433 25 0 0
15 Alex Bowman 586 -452 25 0 0
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr 518 -520 25 0 2
17 Ryan Newman 503 -535 25 0 0
18 Austin Dillon 496 -542 25 1 5
19 Paul Menard 493 -545 25 0 1
20 Daniel Suarez 487 -551 25 0 0
21 Jamie McMurray 464 -574 25 0 0
22 William Byron 444 -594 25 0 0
23 Chris Buescher 404 -634 25 0 0
24 AJ Allmendinger 391 -647 25 0 1
25 David Ragan 368 -670 25 0 0
26 Michael McDowell 361 -677 25 0 0
27 Kasey Kahne 358 -680 25 0 0
28 Bubba Wallace 357 -681 25 0 0
29 Ty Dillon 326 -712 25 0 0
30 Matt DiBenedetto 267 -771 25 0 0
31 Trevor Bayne 214 -824 16 0 0
32 Matt Kenseth 129 -909 9 0 0
33 Gray Gaulding 118 -920 19 0 0
34 Cole Whitt 90 -948 10 0 0
35 Corey LaJoie 89 -949 15 0 0
36 Jeffrey Earnhardt 73 -965 10 0 0
37 Reed Sorenson 45 -993 10 0 0
38 Harrison Rhodes 23 -1015 5 0 0
39 Blake Jones 21 -1017 3 0 0
40 Kyle Weatherman 16 -1022 3 0 0
41 Mark Thompson 15 -1023 1 0 0
42 Derrike Cope 8 -1030 3 0 0
43 Chris Cook 6 -1032 1 0 0
44 Tomy Drissi 5 -1033 1 0 0
45 Danica Patrick 2 -1036 1 0 0
46 Cody Ware 1 -1037 2 0 0
47 Brendan Gaughan 0 -1038 3 0 0
48 Justin Marks 0 -1038 2 0 0
49 DJ Kennington 0 -1038 7 0 0
50 David Gilliland 0 -1038 1 0 0
51 Ray Black Jnr 0 -1038 1 0 0
52 Ross Chastain 0 -1038 23 0 0
53 JJ Yeley 0 -1038 8 0 0
54 Landon Cassill 0 -1038 18 0 0
55 Parker Kligerman 0 -1038 3 0 0
56 Timothy Peters 0 -1038 1 0 0
57 Cole Custer 0 -1038 2 0 0
58 Joey Gase 0 -1038 4 0 0
59 Timmy Hill 0 -1038 12 0 0

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