Brad Keselowski led just one lap, but it was the most important one, passing Kurt Busch just as the white flag flew to win Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
“This is one we’re going to sit back and go ‘wow’ for a while,” Keselowski said.
It was Keselowski’s first win of the season and the 17th of his Sprint Cup career.
It also was his best career finish at ACS, with his previous best there being 18th.
But it wasn’t an easy win by any stretch, as Keselowski and the rest of the field had to endure two late-race cautions that extended the original 200-lap length to 209 laps under the green-white-checker finish.
It marked the fourth time in the last five races at ACS that the Sprint Cup event was decided on a last-lap pass.
Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
Thirty-two cars finished on the lead lap and all 43 cars finished the race, the first time that has happened since the 2013 Brickyard 400.
How Keselowski won: A great pit call by crew chief Paul Wolfe on the second-to-last caution led the driver of the No. 2 to victory lane. While Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch took two tires, Wolfe called for four tires for Keselowski. “I told those guys I didn’t think we were going to be able to do it with two, so we went with four tires,” Wolfe said.
Who else had a good day: Kevin Harvick continued his red-hot ways, earning his eighth consecutive top-2 finish in as many races, dating back to the last three races of 2014. Harvick now has four wins and four runner-up finishes in that stretch. … Also having a good day was Kurt Busch, who finished third. He led the most laps (65) and appeared headed towards victory until Keselowski overtook him leading into the final lap.
Who had a bad day: Matt Kenseth led 43 laps and appeared headed to victory when his car suffered a broken axle late in the race, relegating him to a disappointing 31st place finish. … Sam Hornish Jr. wrecked early but was able to return after repairs were made. Hornish finished 43rd.
Notables: Tony Stewart earned his best finish of the season (14th). … Paul Menard earned his best finish of the season thus far (4th) … Danica Patrick finished 19th, her second-best finish of the season.
Quote of the day: “I knew (Busch) had been the class of the weekend and on speed definitely deserved to win, but I guess we kind of stole one today,” Keselowski said.
What’s next: The series heads to Martinsville Speedway next weekend. Kurt Busch is the defending winner of that race.