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Keselowski Out-Duels Busch To Win Martinsville

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 2 2017

Brad Keselowski drove the No. 2 Penske car to the victory in Martinsville on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

RacinToday.com

Brad Keselowski passed Kyle Busch with 43 laps to go, moved out to a relatively comfortable lead and went on to win Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series race at the Martinsville Speedway short track.

The victory was the second of the year for Keselowski – who also won at Las Vegas three weeks ago – and the first of his career at Martinsville. It was the Team Penske driver’s 23 career victory.

“We’ve ran here so good,” Keselowski said in Victory Lane, “but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home.”

Until Sunday.

“Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks,” he said. “The guys that run well everywhere run well here, and it’s really just an honor to win here and get to compete here.  This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here.  It feels great to be able to join them and bring home a (grandfather) clock (that goes to the winner at Martinsville).”

The finish gave Keselowski five straight top-fives in 2017.

Busch, who led the most laps on the day, hung on to finish second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota while Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports was third.

“Just needed a normal set of tires” after the final pit stop, Busch said. “We put on a set of
tires there at the end that weren’t the same as the ones that we took off and it just slowed the car down a minimum three tenths that whole entire last run. We just had no speed in the center of the corner and couldn’t maintain the drive off that we needed to on the long runs either. We just were hurting it really really bad there.”

Joey Logano and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five.

Martin Truex Jr. won the first stage Sunday and Elliott the second.

Busch dominated the final stage until he was passed by Keselowski with 95 laps to go. With 85 to go, Busch came back and moved to the lead.

With 82 laps to go, a big wreck collected a number of contenders, including those of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Erik Jones.

When the race restarted with 64 laps to go, Keselowski had the lead.

With 57 laps to go, Busch went low on Keselowski and again took the lead.

For the next 14 laps, Keselowski worked over the rear bumper of Busch car. Finally, with 43 laps to go, Keselowski made the pass and had the lead again. Once out front, Keselowski was able to break free of Busch and put a 1-second gap between them with 30 to go.

From there, he weaved his way through lapped traffic all the way to the checkered flag.

His final gap over Busch was 1.8 seconds.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – STP 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Sunday, April 2, 2017

  1. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500.
  2. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500.
  3. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.
  4. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  5. (20) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.
  6. (30) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 500.
  7. (8) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.
  8. (11) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500.
  9. (25) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500.
  10. (24) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 500.
  11. (33) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 500.
  12. (15) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 500.
  13. (16) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500.
  14. (13) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500.
  15. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  16. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.
  17. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.
  18. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500.
  19. (22) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 500.
  20. (9) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
  21. (31) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 499.
  22. (23) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 499.
  23. (29) Danica Patrick, Ford, 499.
  24. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 498.
  25. (7) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 498.
  26. (26) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 497.
  27. (27) Landon Cassill, Ford, 497.
  28. (35) * Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 496.
  29. (37) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 495.
  30. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 493.
  31. (32) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 492.
  32. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 489.
  33. (38) * Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 486.
  34. (21) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 418.
  35. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Accident, 401.
  36. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 385.
  37. (14) Kurt Busch, Ford, Accident, 295.
  38. (6) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 105.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  70.139 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 44 Mins, 59 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.806 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  14 for 95 laps.

Lead Changes:  18 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 1-23; B. Keselowski 24-71; J. Logano 72; M. Truex Jr. 73-88; D. Hamlin 89-108; Kyle Busch 109; M. Truex Jr. 110-135; Kyle Busch 136-144; C. Elliott 145-151; Kyle Busch 152-259; C. Elliott 260-272; Kyle Busch 273-336; D. Hamlin 337-340; Kyle Busch 341-405; B. Keselowski 406-415; Kyle Busch 416-428; B. Keselowski 429-443; Kyle Busch 444-457; B. Keselowski 458-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 7 times for 274 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 116 laps; M. Truex Jr. 2 times for 42 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 24 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 23 laps; C. Elliott 2 times for 20 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 78,11,18,2,24,42,21,48,3,14

Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,18,2,48,21,88,20,77,6,5

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 2 2017
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