Keselowski survives Vegas carnage for Penske’s 500th win

Monday 17th September, 2018 - 1:56pm

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Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski has picked up a third consecutive win and delivered Team Penske its 500th in all series in a bruising Las Vegas NASCAR Playoff season opener.

In a South Point 400 in which several of the big name Playoff contenders found trouble, Keselowski (#2 Ford) beat Kyle Larson (#42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) after a succession restarts late in the race.

Defending champion Martin Truex Jnr (#78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota) finished third while Joey Logano (#22 Ford) and Ryan Blaney (#12 Ford) made it all three Team Penske cars in the top five, in third and fourth respectively.

The first of the 16 drivers in Playoff contention to come to grief was Kevin Harvick, who fired into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 148 after blowing a tyre in the final moments of Stage 2.

Pole-sitter Erik Jones (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) was caught up and followed Car #4 into the outside wall before piling into the rear of the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford , with Harvick blaming ‘piece of crap tyres’ for the crash which eliminated both.

Keselowski led the field back to green with four laps left in Stage 2 after winning the race off pit road under the Caution for Harvick’s accident.

The Ford driver grabbed the Stage 2 win ahead of Kurt Busch (#41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) while Stage 1 victor Truex Jnr was third.

In the early part of Stage 3, Truex Jnr reclaimed the lead from Keselowski with an inside move before the carnage kicked off.

On Lap 212, Chase Elliott (#9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) became the third Playoff contender to get taken out of the race after being collected by a spinning Jamie McMurray (#1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), who had cut a tyre when he touched the wall one corner prior.

It sent the #9 hard into the outside wall, making right side contact before coming to a halt on the top of the banking.

Keselowski swapped the lead with Logano and Larson in the two following Cautions for Playoff contenders Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), who spun off Turn 4 and ploughed through the infield grass in separate incidents.

The #2 regained the lead on the subsequent restart following a tense three-wide battle moments before a late wreck involving Playoff drivers Jimmie Johnson (#48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (#14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Alex Bowman (#88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) and Kurt Busch, among others.

A red flag was thrown for the clean-up of the incident, pushing the race into overtime, but Keselowski managed to hold onto the lead on the restart and claim his 27th career win.

He is now locked into Round 12 of the Playoffs.

Aric Almirola was the best of the rest in sixth, followed by a recovering Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard who competed the top 10.

Of the 12 Caution periods in the race, five came in the last 40 laps, with barely more than half of the 16-driver Playoff contingent finishing in the top half of the field.

The second of three races in the Round of 16 takes place this weekend at Richmond Raceway (September 21-22 local time).

Race highlights

Results: South Point 400, Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 272 75 Running
2 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 272 24 Running
3 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 272 96 Running
4 22 Joey Logano Ford 272 46 Running
5 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 272 0 Running
6 10 Aric Almirola Ford 272 0 Running
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 272 1 Running
8 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 272 0 Running
9 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 272 0 Running
10 21 Paul Menard Ford 272 0 Running
11 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 272 0 Running
12 95 Regan Smith Chevrolet 272 10 Running
13 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 272 0 Running
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 272 0 Running
15 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 272 0 Running
16 72 Corey LaJoie Chevrolet 272 0 Running
17 23 JJ Yeley Toyota 272 0 Running
18 00 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 272 0 Running
19 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 271 0 Running
20 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 271 0 Running
21 41 Kurt Busch Ford 271 0 Running
22 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 270 0 Running
23 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 270 0 Running
24 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 269 0 Running
25 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt Toyota 269 0 Running
26 99 Kyle Weatherman Chevrolet 269 0 Running
27 38 David Ragan Ford 268 0 Running
28 51 BJ McLeod Ford 268 0 Running
29 34 Michael McDowell Ford 265 0 Crash
30 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 251 0 Crash
31 7 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 246 0 Running
32 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 245 1 Crash
33 66 Timmy Hill Toyota 231 0 Running
34 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 218 0 Crash
35 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 211 5 Crash
36 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 211 0 Crash
37 24 William Byron Chevrolet 210 0 Crash
38 43 Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 164 0 Front hub
39 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 147 14 Crash
40 20 Erik Jones Toyota 147 0 Crash

Standings

Pos Driver Pts Gap Starts Wins Playoff pts
1 Martin Truex Jnr 2087   27 4 36
2 Kyle Busch 2085 -2 27 6 50
3 Brad Keselowski 2069 -18 27 3 25
4 Kevin Harvick 2060 -27 27 7 50
5 Joey Logano 2056 -31 27 1 14
6 Kurt Busch 2046 -41 27 1 14
7 Ryan Blaney 2042 -45 27 0 7
8 Kyle Larson 2041 -46 27 0 5
9 Aric Almirola 2034 -53 27 0 1
10 Austin Dillon 2031 -56 27 1 5
11 Clint Bowyer 2029 -58 27 2 15
12 Alex Bowman 2028 -59 27 0 0
13 Jimmie Johnson 2022 -65 27 0 0
14 Chase Elliott 2019 -68 27 1 8
15 Erik Jones 2009 -78 27 1 5
16 Denny Hamlin 2008 -79 27 0 3
17 Ryan Newman 561 -1526 27 0 0
18 Paul Menard 551 -1536 27 0 0
19 Daniel Suarez 530 -1557 27 0 0
20 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr 528 -1559 27 0 0
21 Jamie McMurray 502 -1585 27 0 0
22 William Byron 466 -1621 27 0 0
23 Chris Buescher 438 -1649 27 0 0
24 AJ Allmendinger 415 -1672 27 0 0
25 David Ragan 391 -1696 27 0 0
26 Michael McDowell 389 -1698 27 0 0
27 Bubba Wallace 359 -1728 27 0 0
28 Kasey Kahne 358 -1729 25 0 0
29 Ty Dillon 345 -1742 27 0 0
30 Matt DiBenedetto 281 -1806 27 0 0
31 Trevor Bayne 238 -1849 17 0 0
32 Matt Kenseth 164 -1923 10 0 0
33 Corey Lajoie 120 -1967 17 0 0
34 Gray Gaulding 118 -1969 19 0 0
35 Jeffrey Earnhardt 90 -1997 12 0 0
36 Cole Whitt 90 -1997 10 0 0
37 Reed Sorenson 60 -2027 12 0 0
38 Regan Smith 42 -2045 2 0 0
39 Kyle Weatherman 27 -2060 4 0 0
40 Harrison Rhodes 23 -2064 5 0 0
41 Blake Jones 21 -2066 3 0 0
42 Mark Thompson 15 -2072 1 0 0
43 Derrike Cope 8 -2079 3 0 0
44 Chris Cook 6 -2081 1 0 0
45 Tomy Drissi 5 -2082 1 0 0
46 Danica Patrick 2 -2085 1 0 0
47 Cody Ware 1 -2086 2 0 0
48 Brendan Gaughan 0 -2087 3 0 0
49 Justin Marks 0 -2087 2 0 0
50 DJ Kennington 0 -2087 7 0 0
51 David Gilliland 0 -2087 1 0 0
52 Ray Black Jnr 0 -2071 0 0 0
53 JJ Yeley 0 -2087 10 0 0
54 Ross Chastain 0 -2087 25 0 0
55 Landon Cassill 0 -2087 20 0 0
56 Parker Kligerman 0 -2087 3 0 0
57 Timothy Peters 0 -2087 1 0 0
58 Cole Custer 0 -2087 2 0 0
59 Joey Gase 0 -2087 4 0 0

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