Brad Keselowski won Monday’s rain-delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard.
Keselowski followed up his Bojangles’ Southern 500 victory at Darlington Raceway with another crown jewel win taking the checkered flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
It was also the first Brickyard 400 win for team owner Roger Penske who can now add the trophy to his record 17 Indianapolis 500 victories.
“I gotta give credit where credit is due,” Keselowski said. “My crew chief, Paul Wolfe, made a heck of a call to pit there late in that run and the yellow came out and we had new tires and started eighth and it was kind of like it gave me the ball. You know how that goes. I had to make a play. I knew it was going to be tough.
“We weren’t a dominant car by any means but Paul and everyone executed an incredible race. I just had to do my job and here I am in victory lane at the Brickyard. Man, I wish RP (Roger Penske) was here. I know he is watching at home. What a day!”
Keselowski had to battle Denny Hamlin for the win in the closing laps in an intense duel that saw the duo make contact more than once before the race was settled.
“Denny is a heck of a racecar driver,” Keselowski said. “He didn’t give it to me, and he shouldn’t…I’m so happy for everybody at Team Penske to be able to pull this thing together and finally get it, we’ve finished second here I don’t know how many times”
Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five finishers.
Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman completed the first 10 finishers.
Bowyer and Matt Kenseth won the first two stages.
Kyle Busch won the regular season points championship (Read More) and leads the field of 16 drivers that will battle for the title including Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Keselowski, Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Jones, Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs now begin next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
How Keselowski Won: The day’s final restart was the opportunity Keselowski had to get around Hamlin and Bowyer when he took the green flag third with just three laps to go. Bowyer spun his tires on the restart and that allowed Keselowski to go after Hamlin. The duo battled side by side making contact a couple of times along the way but once Keselowski got the lead with his fresher tires he was able to pull away and score the win.
Who Had a Good Day: Jones head his best finish at Indianapolis with his previous run ending in 31st…Harvick has eight straight top-10 finishes this season…Bowyer had his first top five since Chicagoland Speedway.
Who Had a Bad Day: Martin Truex Jr. had to start from the rear of the field because his car failed inspection but he worked his way toward the front in short order. But a broken brake rotor on lap 41 ended his day (Read More)…Bubba Wallace also had a brake issue and crashed out of the race on lap 57 taking David Starr with him…Alex Bowman spun and collected AJ Allmendinger sending the JTG Daugherty driver slamming into the inside wall and out of competition…Matt DiBenedetto experienced a mechanical problem ending his day on lap 88…Ricky Stenhouse Jr. needed a win to make the playoffs but after getting into the top-10 late he was eliminated with a mechanical issue as well…Landon Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt were involved in a vicious crash with seven laps to go destroying both their cars. Neither driver was injured.
What Else Happened: Because of rain all weekend long the race started without drivers having any practice or qualifying laps on track. Two competition cautions were built in to check tire wear but once things got going drivers settled in and the pack of on track time was not an issue. As is usually the case at Indianapolis, restarts were the best opportunity to pass and there were several wild sequences when green went back in the air of drivers going two and sometimes three-wide, at least for a while, trying to gain spots on the track.
Quotable: Those meaningless cautions at the end by drivers multiple laps down – what they are doing crashing with a few laps to go, I have no idea. It cost us the race.” – Denny Hamlin (Read More)
Notables: Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi are the only two team owners with wins in both the Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500…Keselowski became the 15th different driver to win at Indianapolis…It was Ford’s first Indy win since 1999.