Brad Keselowski, who battled flu-like symptoms this weekend, held off Martin Truex Jr. to win Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After having limited practice time on Saturday with Austin Cindric helping turn laps in the No. 2 Ford, Keselowski led the final 33 laps en route to his 28th career win and second at AMS.
“A win always makes you feel better,” Keselowski said.
It was Keselowski’s first win of the season and he has secured a spot in the playoffs. He started 19th and had to come back from a slow pit stop on lap 126 when the jack broke.
“An up and down day but ended on the high side,” Keselowski said in Victory Lane. “Had some highs and lows, we had a broken jack and then the pit road sequence we got debris on the grill and overheated. The Roush Yates engine held together, shout out to Doug Yates.”
Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
“I could taste that one,” Truex Jr said. “I really wanted that first Atlanta win. The 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) rode in front of us forever and ever on the bottom. I kept telling them I needed the bottom. These cars are just so bad in dirty air. … Once I got around him I got to (Keselowski) in two laps. Just needed one more.” (Read More)
Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, polesitter Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher and Daniel Suarez completed the first 10 finishers.
Kyle Larson and Harvick won the first two stages of the race.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Keselowski Won: Track position was a key all day and it paid off for Keselowski. He was able to maintain the top spot for the final 33 laps on his way to the win. Despite Truex Jr. closing ground in the final laps Keselowski had a good run to the checkered flag and held him off for the win.
Who Had a Good Day: Kurt Busch rebounded from his disastrous Chip Ganassi Racing debut last week at Daytona to score a third-place finish in his 650th career Cup start…Harvick has finished in the top 10 at Atlanta in his last five series starts…Kyle Busch came from the rear of the field in a backup car plus recovered from a late tire issue to finish sixth…Suarez scored his first top 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Who Had a Bad Day: Rookie Ryan Preece was running inside the top 10 when he slammed into BJ McLeod on pit road who was in front of him trying to get into his stall…Joey Logano had a chance to win the race but was forced to pit for a loose wheel with 20 laps to go…Daniel Hemric was running inside the top five but had a right rear tire issue and had to pit for service…Ryan Blaney also had to pit late for a vibration taking him out of the top-10…Larson led a race-high 142 laps, but was penalized for speeding on pit road (Read More).
What Else Happened: The race had a wealth of unknowns centered around the debut of the new Cup Series rules package. A variation of the package was used this weekend before the full-fledged rollout next week at Las Vegas, which includes aero ducts not used in Atlanta. The result was a race somewhat typical of Atlanta in the past with its worn racing surface taking its toll on tire wear and impacting handling. Restarts, as predicted by many, were intense with cars much more closely bunched together for a number of laps once the green flag reappeared.
Quotable: “No respect for the leaders running for the win. It’s uncalled for, it’s ridiculous,” Truex Jr. on lapped cars.
Notables: Keselowski is tied with Carl Edwards and Rex White for 28th on the all-time series win list…Keselowski also became the all-time winningest driver in Team Penske history with the victory, his 60th overall since joining the organization, surpassing Mark Donohue…He has finished in the top two in each of his last three starts at Atlanta…Truex Jr. had his best Atlanta finish in 21 career starts.