Brad Keselowski puts on driving clinic with dominant Martinsville win
Brad Keselowski put on a driving clinic Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, leading 446 of 500 laps to win the STP 500. It was Keselowski’s second win of the season (he also won at Atlanta), and his fourth top-three finish in the last five races.
Keselowski’s 446 laps led are the most by any driver in a single race since NBC NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty led 484 laps en route to victory at Rockingham Speedway in October 1992.
Sunday marked Keselowski’s 29th career Cup win and his second Cup triumph in 19 starts at Martinsville. Starting with his April 2017 victory there, Keselowski has led 712 laps over the last five races at the southern Virginia short track.
“The car was really good,” Keselowski told Fox Sports 1. “Just a great day for our team. Awesome execution on pit road. ... Just one of those days you dream of as a race car driver, where you have a great car.
"(Runner-up) Chase Elliott was real strong. He passed me with about 200 laps to go. I watched him and studied and knew what I had to do to hold him off and really pulled it off.”
Elliott tried to mount a last-lap surge -- two of the previous three races at Martinsville have been won on last-lap passes -- but fell short.
“Our Camaro was good and felt we were about as even with him as we could be,” Elliott said. “I tried to move up there at the end, but I don’t know if I could have got to him, maybe if I had moved up a little sooner. Maybe next time.”
Kyle Busch, making his 1,000th career NASCAR start, finished third, snapping a two-race winning streak. Busch and Keselowski are the only two drivers to win more than once this season.
Ryan Blaney finished fourth, followed by Denny Hamlin. Sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez.
There were only three leaders in the race: Keselowski, Chase Elliott (49 laps) and Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano (five laps).
STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski (first stage win of season)
STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Chase Elliott finally put Hendrick Motorsports in the top five for the first time this season with his runner-up finish. … Clint Bowyer bounced back from two pit road speeding penalties to finish seventh. It was Bowyer’s second top 10 of the season. ... Aric Almirola continues to be one of the most consistent drivers through the first six races, earning his fifth consecutive top-10 Sunday.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Ross Chastain lost an axle on Lap 146, returned to the track after repairs in the garage, only to suffer mechanical failure that brought out the caution on Lap 445. Chastain finished 34th in the 36-car field. … The struggles continue for nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson, who finished 24th (tied for his worst showing of the season), two laps down. Johnson’s winless streak is now at 65 straight races. His last win was at Dover in June 2017.
NOTABLE: Team Penske is tied with Joe Gibbs Racing in wins, each organization having won three races apiece in the first six races. Penske wins are by Keselowski (two) and Logano (once). JGR’s wins are by Busch (two) and Hamlin (one).
WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 31 (Fox).