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Brad Keselowski captures first win for RFK Racing: 3 takeaways from Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Brad Keselowski snapped a winless streak dating back to the 2021 season after capitalizing on late-race contact between Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher.

Ty Gibbs crossed the line second. Josh Berry, Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe all scored top-five finishes.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s race:

Brad Keselowski captured Ford Performance’s first win of the season.

1. Snapping winless streaks

The win on Sunday evening was significant for multiple reasons. Chief among them is that it snapped multiple winless streaks.

Ford Performance entered the weekend winless in all three national series. In Cup alone, Ford drivers had finished second in six of the first 12 races this season. Keselowski and Buescher had accounted for four of these runner-ups. Now, Ford Performance can finally celebrate a win.

The win was even more significant for Keselowski, the driver-owner at RFK Racing. His resume features a Cup championship and 35 wins, 34 with Team Penske. However, he had not won a race since joining RFK Racing ahead of the 2022 season.

Keselowski entered Sunday’s race at Darlington in the midst of a 110-race winless streak. His last win was Talladega Superspeedway in April 2021.

He has achieved his goal of taking the No. 6 Ford to victory lane and he has put himself back in the playoffs.

“What a heck of a day,” Keselowski said after his second career victory at this historic track. “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 (Chris Buescher), Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all out on the line, it was freaking awesome.”

Ryan Blaney finished last in the 36-car field after hitting the wall while racing William Byron and Martin Truex Jr.

2. Hot temperatures, hotter tempers

Sunday’s race at Darlington featured multiple drivers expressing anger at each other under the sunny, South Carolina skies. Ryan Blaney said that he was saving his payback against William Byron for another time while Buescher angrily confronted Reddick after the race.

The incident between Buescher and Reddick was the result of hard racing on the track. Buescher was in the lead in the final stage when Reddick moved up the track on his inside. The No. 17 of Buescher and the No. 45 of Reddick made hard contact and pinched Buescher into the wall.

Both drivers suffered tire issues after the contact. This opened up the door for Keselowski to score his first win with RFK Racing. While he performed a burnout on the frontstretch, Buescher shoved Reddick on pit road.

"(Buescher was) still outside and yeah, I tried to check up too late,” Reddick said after the race. “I slid right into him. Popped my tire, popped his tire.

” ... If I just would have (taken) myself out of it, I had a flat, it’s a different story. Yeah, he was gonna win that race had I not tried that.”

Blaney’s day ended on Lap 129 after an issue on a restart. The field went three-wide with William Byron on the bottom lane, Martin Truex Jr. in the middle and Blaney on the outside.

Byron got loose and made contact with Truex, who then hit Blaney. Blaney then hit the outside wall hard as the No. 12 left the ground.

Blaney returned to pit road under caution after saying that his car “was killed.” He then actually drove back onto the track ahead of the ensuing restart.

Though he just drove up to Byron and nearly door slammed the No. 24. Blaney avoided contact before heading back onto pit road and into the garage area.

Blaney came within inches of hitting Byron under caution. He chose to avoid this outcome. That doesn’t mean the story is over.

“I’m not going to hit him,” Blaney said in response to a question from NBC Sports. “I’m going to save that for another time. I almost did on accident, actually.

‘I got on the apron and the toe link was busted. I almost actually hit him when I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to show my displeasure, so we’ll see where it goes.”

3. A big afternoon for multiple drivers

Sunday’s Cup race featured door-to-door racing on the track and angry comments from multiple drivers.

While Keselowski scored his first Cup win since 2021, several other drivers turned in season-best performances.

Josh Berry, the rookie driver of the No. 4 Ford, entered Sunday’s race with no top-10 finishes. He started 33rd but worked his way up to third before crossing the finish line. This was his best finish since finishing second at Richmond last season. Berry was in Chase Elliott’s car.

Berry’s teammate, Chase Briscoe, finished fifth. This marked Briscoe’s first top five of the season.

Justin Haley, who moved to Rick Ware Racing this season, finished ninth. This was his first top-10 finish in the No. 51 Ford.

Ty Gibbs entered Sunday’s race with three top-five finishes, none since March. He crossed the line second and delivered a career-best finish.

Stage 1 winner: Kyle Larson

Stage 2 winner: Tyler Reddick

Who had a good race: Brad Keselowski led 37 laps. He scored his first Cup win in the No. 6 Ford and the first of the season for Ford Performance. ... Josh Berry started 33rd. He raced his way inside of the top 10 during the final stage and crossed the line third. ... Ty Gibbs finished second after the late-race incident involving Reddick and Buescher. This was his best finish since Circuit of the Americas. ... Chase Briscoe finished fifth.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Blaney hit the wall hard after contact from Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 129. He finished 36th. ... Daniel Hemric lost power steering during stage 1. He spent the rest of the day outside the top 30. ... Chase Elliott started the race 31st. He struggled with handling throughout the race. Once he reached the top 15, a pit stop issue dropped him back outside the top 25. Elliott finished 12th. ... Zane Smith spun on crashed on Lap 161. He finished 35th, his seventh consecutive finish of 24th or worse. ... Kyle Larson won the first stage after leading 15 laps but he spun and crashed late in the final stage. He finished 34th.

Next: Cup teams next head to North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, May 19, for the All-Star Open (5:30 p.m. ET) and the All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET).