Brad Keselowski emerges on top after classic duel with Kyle Busch in STP 500
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch put on arguably the best battle of the NASCAR Cup season thus far Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
After dueling throughout the final 160 laps, Keselowski pulled away for his second win of the season to capture the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
It was Keselowski’s first career NASCAR Cup win at Martinsville and his fifth straight top-five finish in 2017. It was also Team Penske’s first win at the 0.526-mile paper clip-shaped track since 2004.
“This is awesome,” Keselowski told FS1. “Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks, where guys that run well everywhere, run good here. It’s really an honor to win here and to get to compete here, the history of this track, 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. Man, it feels great to join them.”
Keselowski becomes the first multirace winner of 2017, having won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the season’s second race. He led 116 laps, leading the final 43 after grabbing the lead for good on Lap 458. Busch led a race-high 274 laps.
Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott were the respective winners of Stage 1 and Stage 2, but it was all Keselowski vs. Busch in the final segment of the 500-lap event.
“It’s just a frustrating season so far,” Busch told FS1. “We gave it everything we got. We do all we can with what we’re given, and we try to execute.”
Elliott finished third, followed by Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
There was a big crash on Lap 288 that involved several cars. Austin Dillon and Erik Jones got together, collecting Daniel Suarez, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Kurt Busch was able to get going after that incident on the restart but wrecked again shortly thereafter heading into Turn 3 on Lap 296 and saw his day come to an end, as well.
On Lap 418, several cars wrecked, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Denny Hamlin, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola.
It appeared Hamlin started the crash but getting loose and drifting into Patrick’s car. Earnhardt suffered damage to his radiator that ultimately ended his day early, too.
On Lap 433, Martin Truex Jr., who won Stage 1, spun in Turn 3 while running seventh. He suffered minor damage and ultimately finished 16th.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Chase Elliott almost doubled up. He won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race and finished third in Sunday’s Cup race. … Austin Dillon finished a season-best fifth. … Clint Bowyer had his second consecutive top-10 finish. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was involved in several fender-banging incidents with fellow drivers but managed to bounce back to finish 10th.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Jamie McMurray (38th) and Kurt Busch (37th) both suffered tire issues that led to race-ending wrecks. Busch’s bad luck continues: He’s finished 24th or worse in the last four races, including Sunday, marking his first DNF of the season. … Also having a bad showing was Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished 34th), who suffered radiator damage that ended his day on Lap 418.
NOTABLE: Howard Miller Co., which makes the grandfather clocks that are awarded to the winners at Martinsville, are built in Keselowski’s home state of Michigan. ... Keselowski’s finishes in his last five races: 1st (Atlanta), 5th (Las Vegas, Phoenix), 2nd (Fontana) and 1st (Martinsville).
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re not just not quite getting the finishes we need. We just need to figure out how to finish what we are or where we’re running. So far, we’ve been finishing worse.” – Kyle Busch, who has not won since last summer’s Brickyard 400, to FS1.
WHAT’S NEXT: Sunday, April 9, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, 1:30 p.m. ET, Texas Motor Speedway. This will be the first race there after a complete repave and redesign of part of the track.