The door was opened for Keselowski after Kevin Harvick, the race’s pole-sitter and winner of the first two stages, was called for speeding during a caution 15 laps from the finish. Harvick led 292 laps.
The Team Penske driver had bounced back two unscheduled pit stops. The first was on Lap 117 for a tire problem. He was later forced to pit a second time right before a Lap 270 restart for a loose tire. Keselowski had beat Harvick off pit road and would have restarted first.
“This one kind of fell in our lap at the end and my team put it all together when it counted,” Keselowski said. “They gave me a great Auto Trader Ford Fusion and we were able to get by Kyle (Larson) there at the end. I knew that he wasn’t going to be easy to pass. His car was great and I was able to make the right moves to get by him.””
With his 22nd Cup Series victory, Keselowski earned his first Atlanta win in nine starts at the track. It was the No. 2 team’s first win since Keselowski’s victory at Kentucky Speedway last July.
“When you win, you don’t know if you’re ever going to win again,” Keselowski told Fox Sports. “You go through some spells. Gosh it feels good to get one early in the season like this.”
Harvick finished ninth.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Matt Kenseth bounced back from a speeding penalty to finish third, his third top five in the last five Atlanta races … Martin Truex Jr. was caught speeding in the third stage of the race but managed to finished eighth … Larson led seven laps before finishing second, his first top five in four Atlanta starts … Kahne earned his first top five of the season. In 2016, his first of three didn’t come until the ninth race of the season …
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Clint Bowyer smacked the wall with 47 to go after losing a tire, but finished 11th on the lead lap … Richard Childress Racing batteries: Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman each fell victim to them in the final stage of the race, finishing 32nd and 35th respectively … Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was caught speeding twice on pit road and finished 19th, a lap down … Denny Hamlin finished 38th after going to the garage twice, initially for a burnt wheel hub … After multiple tire issues and a speeding penalty, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 30th, five laps down
NOTABLE: Larson has been passed for the lead with under 10 to in each of the last three races … Harvick’s 292 laps led are the most ever at Atlanta by a driver who failed to win. He has led the most laps in the last four races at Atlanta but failed to win all four.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I have to go find Marcus Smith and Ed Clark and beg them not to repave it (the track). I don’t think that I’ll win that battle. Atlanta has always been one of those old school race tracks, look at victory lane…we’re out here on the frontstretch… it feels old school. A great place to win. A track that I haven’t won at before. Gosh darn it, it feels good.” – Brad Keselowski after he first Cup win at Atlanta.