Brad Keselowski wins Kobalt 400 for first victory in 33 races


Brad Keselowski passed hometown favorite Kyle Busch with six laps remaining in the Kobalt 400 to score his first win in 33 races. His last victory came at Auto Club Speedway last March.

Keselowski battled wind, sand storms and a Lap 180 speeding penalty to earn his 18th Sprint Cup win. It’s the first win in 2016 for Team Penske, which celebrates its 50th anniversary. Keselowski led a Team Penske sweep with Joey Logano finishing second.

“It’s such a good feeling to be back in victory lane, it’s been way too long,” Keselowski told Fox. “I’m beat. I put everything I had into driving this car.”

The final roadblock for the No. 2 was Busch, who dramatically took the lead on a Lap 224 restart by passing four cars and was poised to earn a sweep of the weekend after winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. But Busch struggled with a “huge vibration” and Keselowski took advantage, tracking him down and passing the No. 18 on Lap 262.

“This rules package, I love it,” Keselowski told Fox. “The cars they can be really fast at the start of the run or really fast at the end of the run, and we had awesome speed at the end of every run. It seemed like we could never put it all together with the way the cautions kept falling.”

The 267-lap race was slowed six times for 36 laps. The final restart came on Lap 233, leaving the leaders 35 laps to decide the race. The cautions allowed Keselowski, Logano and Austin Dillon to stay on the track after electing not to pit on Lap 219 during a caution.

“At the end, we got the big, long run and we couldn’t get going for the first few laps and I thought for sure (Jimmie Johnson) and a couple of others were going to drive by me, then it finally started to take off with about 25 to go.:

Keselowski was followed by Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon.

HOW BRAD KESELOWSKI WON: Keselowski took the lead for the last time with six laps to go after battling back from a speeding penalty and wasn’t challenged.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Joey Logano earned his first top five of the season by finishing second. Logano led 75 laps and was the last driver Keselowski passed before taking on Kyle Busch and the lead. “It is something to be very proud of for our team. We have a lot of second-place finishes already this year,” Logano said … Austin Dillon started in the top 10, but two pit road miscues, including speeding on Lap 150, that sent him to the back. Dillon stayed out during the caution on Lap 218 and the caution from the Lap 225 crash allowed him to stay out the rest of the race and finish fifth for his third career top five  … Jimmie Johnson finished in the top three for the second week in a row. He led a race-high 76 laps.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Kyle Larson was spun by AJ Allmendinger on Lap 198, causing the rear-end of Larson’s car to hit the outside wall. Then with 53 laps left, Larson and Regan Smith both spun in Turn 3, with Larson damaging his rear bumper when he backed into the inside wall. Larson finished 34th, four laps down … The caution returned two laps into the next restart when Kenseth got loose in Turn 1, slid up the track and was rear-ended by Chase Elliott. Elliott, who had run in the top 10 most of the day, finished 38th. Kenseth finished 37th … Brian Vickers, in his second race replacing Tony Stewart, ended the day 10 laps down in 26th after dealing with a broken axle.

NOTABLE: Keselowski is the first driver to win a Sprint Cup race after a speeding penalty since Matt Kenseth in August 2013 at Bristol Motor Speedway. … The race saw 21 lead changes among 10 drivers.

Quote of the day: “I’m so thrilled to be back in victory lane … I just wish my daughter was here for this. I can’t wait to get home to see her.” – Brad Keselowski.

NEXT: Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, March 13th at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox