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Keselowski rides fresh tires to win Brickyard 400

First Brickyard 400 for Roger Penske
Monday, September 10, 2018


Brad Keselowski crosses the finish line to win the Brickyard 400
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s been a historical two weeks for Brad Keselowski. The No. 2 Ford driver executed a hard-nosed pass of Denny Hamlin with two laps remaining in Monday’s rain-delayed Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard to win his first race at prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one week after visiting Victory Lane in the "crown-jewel” Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. 

Keselowski earned Team Penske its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the track to go with the storied organization’s 17 Indianapolis 500 trophies – including one this May.  

The 34-year-old Michigan native finished runner-up in this race last year and positioned himself to one-up the effort thanks to a late-race pit strategy call by his crew chief Paul Wolfe. On a restart with three laps remaining, the 2012 Cup champion muscled by Hamlin on fresher tires. He beat runner-up Erik Jones – who later maneuvered around Hamlin –  to the start/finish line by 0.904 seconds.

"It’s incredible, last year I lost this race almost exactly the same way,’’ Keselowski said in Victory Lane after joining his team in climbing the front stretch grandstands to celebrate with the loyal crowd.

"It feels really good to make up for it and to get Roger Penske his first Cup car win here at the Brickyard. It’s an incredible feeling and I’m so happy for Team Penske.’’

Hamlin finished third, while Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five. Hamlin and Bowyer – who raced for the lead much of the final stage – each led a race-high 37 laps.

The race marked the end of the regular season with points leader Kyle Busch – who finished eighth Monday – officially collecting the regular season trophy. He and seven-race winner Harvick top the points standings as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins its 10-week Playoff run this Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"We had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs but fought our way back,’’ the six-race winner and two-time Indy winner Busch said just before receiving the regular season trophy.

"In the grand scheme of things it was a pretty good day considering we get to go home with some hardware.”

The third member of the sport’s "Big 3” this season is four-race winner Martin Truex Jr. The reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion goes into the playoffs ranked third, although he only completed 41 laps at Indy – his No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota officially finishing last in the 40-car field having to retire early with a brake problem.

Brad Keselowski (center) kisses the famous row of bricks alongside his crew and wife Paige and daughter Scarlett
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

With the two wins, Keselowski jumps into fourth place in the Playoff standings just ahead of the season’s other two-time winner Bowyer.  

Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman were the only two drivers that hadn’t secured a Playoff berth prior to the drop of the Indy green flag, but both advanced to the 16-driver field with 16th and 33rd place efforts at Indy.

"We raced up into the top 10 a couple times, we just didn’t have the speed to run up front,’’ said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

"We’ll go home and work hard and be ready for Las Vegas. I’m just proud I’ve made every Playoff since NASCAR started them. …we have a lot of experience and I think our experience in pressure-packed situations will help us.”

There were plenty of pressure-packed situations in Monday’s race, including two at the end of the day stymying the chances of a couple frontrunners.

Ryan Blaney, who ran among the front-runners most of the day, missed his pit stall on the final stop and ended up 11th in his Team Penske Ford. And former series champion Matt Kenseth, who seemed to revitalize the No. 6 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford operation this weekend, had pit problems as well on the final stop with the car falling off the jack.   

Still it was a positive day for the team. Kenseth led five laps and scored the first stage win of the season for the No. 6 Ford, capturing the Stage 2 checkered flag just ahead of Chase Elliott and Jones. His 12th-place effort was a season best for him and a promising sign for Roush-Fenway Racing.  

Three former Brickyard winners – Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman – kept the closing laps suspenseful as well. Because they came into the race ranked outside the Playoffs’ top-16, a win would’ve eliminated Bowman from the postseason. They finished seventh, ninth and tenth respectively.

Keselowski’s win was the first for Ford Motor Company at Indianapolis since 1999.


12Brad KeselowskiFord1600.000s183.628mph
220Erik JonesToyota1600.904182.146
311Denny HamlinToyota1601.703182.693
44Kevin HarvickFord1601.955185.041
514Clint BowyerFord1602.413183.621
641Kurt BuschFord1602.797184.385
71Jamie McMurrayChevy1603.858180.955
818Kyle BuschToyota1604.631184.370
921Paul MenardFord1604.632181.364
1031Ryan NewmanChevy1604.641180.723
1112Ryan BlaneyFord1604.798181.899
126Matt KensethFord1604.911181.072
1322Joey LoganoFord1605.423179.874
1442Kyle LarsonChevy1605.876182.105
159Chase ElliottChevy1606.264181.415
1648Jimmie JohnsonChevy1606.708179.960
1734Michael McDowellFord1607.762178.126
1819Daniel SuarezToyota1607.978180.803
1924William ByronChevy1608.964181.715
2095Regan SmithChevy1609.015178.352
2113Ty DillonChevy1609.020176.498
223Austin DillonChevy1609.135181.517
2310Aric AlmirolaFord159-1Lap181.163
2438David RaganFord159-1176.308
2537Chris BuescherChevy158-2179.447
2615Ross ChastainChevy158-2175.118
2772Corey LaJoieChevy158-2175.644
287Reed SorensonChevy158-2172.804
2923JJ YeleyToyota157-3172.775
3052BJ McLeodFord157-3171.549
3100Landon CassillChevy150-10172.738
3296* Jeffrey EarnhardtToyota150-10173.635
3388Alex BowmanChevy142-18179.208
3417Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ford136-24180.274
3566* Timmy HillToyota124-36167.134
3632Matt DiBenedettoFord89-71175.343
3747AJ AllmendingerChevy66-94178.063
3843Bubba Wallace #Chevy57-103176.294
3951David StarrChevy57-103171.367
4078Martin Truex Jr.Toyota41-119180.018


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