Brad Keselowski wins in overtime in Las Vegas

5 Comments

Brad Keselowski won Sunday’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in overtime, outrunning Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. to earn his third victory in a row.

The top five was completed by Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney.

The win in the Cup playoff opener is Team Penske’s 500th in motorsports. With Logano and Blaney, it is the first time Penske has had three cars finish in the top five in Cup.

“500 wins today, huge day for the Captain (Roger Penske),” Keselowski told NBCSN. “I did it, boss! To start off the playoffs with a win, that’s really strong. … It’s really a testament to this team here. They’ve been so strong on pit road and I couldn’t have done it without them. We weren’t as fast as the 78 car (Truex), but we nailed the pit stops and restarts when it counted.”

Keselowski had never won three consecutive races before Sunday.

The overtime finish was set up by a wreck involving Kurt Busch, Michael McDowell and David Ragan coming to two laps to go in the scheduled distance. The incident resulted in a red flag before the race resumed.

That wreck caused the 12th and final caution of the race. More than half of the 16-driver playoff field ran into problems throughout the race.

Keselowski led 75 of 272 laps on his way to the win, which is the 27th of his career. The victory follows wins in the Southern 500 and Brickyard 400.

Keselowski also snaps a 13-race win streak by the “Big 3” of Truex, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick on 1.5-mile tracks.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

MORE: race results

MORE: Point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: No. 1 seed Kyle Busch managed to finish seventh after he spun with 35 laps to go and slid through the front stretch grass … Kyle Larson bounced back from a flat tire in the first stage to earn his sixth runner-up finish of the year … Ryan Blaney earned his first top five in four races … Regan Smith led 10 laps (his most in a season since 2011) and finished 12th, giving Leavine Family Racing its best finish since Kasey Kahne placed fourth in the July Daytona race.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones wrecked out on Lap 148 after Harvick lost his right-front tire and hit the wall. Harvick placed 39th and Jones finished last … Jamie McMurray wrecked with 55 laps to go and collected Chase Elliott. McMurray finished 35th and Elliott placed 36th.  … Denny Hamlin wrecked out of Turn 4 with 21 laps to go. He placed 32nd.

NOTABLE: Brad Keselowski is the third driver to earn three consecutive wins this season (Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch). First time in NASCAR’s modern era that three drivers have achieved that feat in a season … Every driver who finished fifth through 18th finished better than their average running position.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Brad clearly found a horseshoe. Three races in a row he’s won and he has not had the best car..” – Martin Truex Jr.

WHAT’S NEXT: Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 22 on NBCSN.

Check back for more.

Ryan Blaney thankful for support after Daytona 500 incident

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ryan Blaney said he didn’t want to talk to many people the night of the Daytona 500 after contact with Ryan Newman triggered Newman’s horrific last-lap crash.

But when Blaney got home, his parents were there.

“That was nice of them to be there,” Blaney said Friday at Auto Club Speedway, the first time he’s talked to the media about the Daytona 500 since that night.  

Blaney was ashen when he spoke briefly to the media after the season-opening Daytona 500. As he spoke, an ambulance drove by on the frontstretch, taking Newman to the hospital.

Blaney was intent on pushing Newman, a fellow Ford driver, to the victory when it became clear to Blaney he could not win the race. But as he pushed Newman coming to the finish, the contact unsettled Newman’s car and it turned right into the outside wall. Newman’s car went airborne and was slammed in the driver side area while upside down by Corey LaJoie.

Newman walked out of a Daytona Beach hospital two days later. Newman said last weekend in a statement that he suffered a head injury but did not disclose any details. He has since been to Roush Fenway Racing to see team members and also did a video for one of the team’s sponsors that day. Newman will not race this weekend, missing his second consecutive race but said in his statement he looks forward to racing again.

MORE: Ryan Blaney talks to Ryan Newman, looks forward to seeing him at track

Blaney said several people helped him in the aftermath of Newman’s accident. All that was known the night of the race was that Newman was in serious condition with a non-life-threatening injury.

Blaney said close friend Bubba Wallace spent time with him the day after the Daytona 500.

“We talked about some stuff,” Blaney said Friday of what he and Wallace did. “I stayed off social media and all that stuff. You have people that aren’t even involved and have never even watched the sport that have their own opinion on bad things.

“The outreach I got from the calls from former drivers and current drivers that week was pretty remarkable. Their support was good. Even though it is unintentional and it is racing, it still takes a toll on you when it is off of your nose. You never want to see anyone get hurt in this sport. We are all competitors, but we are also a big family.

“Ryan and I have gotten along really well and that was just a bad circumstance and it is great that it worked out for the best. It was nice to have the friends and family and drivers and teams (offer their) support. That really helped me out.”

Blaney cited a couple of former drivers whose calls were impactful.

Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte called me, people that I looked up to a lot as a kid,” Blaney said. “It was neat that they called me and gave me their peace of mind. That was good.”

Friday also marked the first time for Blaney to speak publicly since last weekend’s race at Las Vegas. Blaney led but a late caution changed the race. He and Alex Bowman, running second, were among drivers who pitted. Joey Logano, running third, did not pit, inherited the lead and went on to win. Blaney finished 11th.

Blaney said Friday it took him 10 minutes to get over how that race ended.

“Yeah, it was over,” Blaney said. “Moving on. I went and stayed in a teepee and forgot about it.”

About his experience staying in a teepee, Blaney said:

“I already had that planned no matter what happened. I like camping. I was out on a ranch in the middle of the desert for a couple days and just hanging out and all that stuff. It was fun.”

As for what he did, Blaney said: “Go hiking a little bit. Cook by the fire. Clear your head. It is just relaxing. I have always kind of been that way. It was nice to get out there. I was out there. I had to be out there for Tuesday night anyway and figured I would stay somewhere other than the (Las Vegas) Strip. I can’t do the strip for very long. I wanted to stay somewhere opposite to the Strip.”

Alex Bowman fastest in final Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alex Bowman completed a sweep of Friday’s Cup Series practice sessions at Auto Club Speedway by posting the top speed in final practice. He was also fastest in first practice.

Bowman’s top speed was 176.626 mph. He recorded 32 laps in the session.

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (176.186 mph), Bubba Wallace (176.177), Kurt Busch (175.816) and Christopher Bell (175.695).

Bowman also had the best 10-lap average at 175.317 mph.

Kurt Busch recorded the most laps with 47.

The only incident in the session was defending race winner Kyle Busch brushing the wall in Turn 3 after his car got away from him on the bumps in the corner. Repairs were made to the car and Busch returned to the track with 17 minutes left in the session.

Click here for the speed chart.

 

Alex Bowman tops field in opening Cup practice at Auto Club

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Alex Bowman posted the fastest lap in opening Cup practice Friday at Auto Club Speedway. Bowman ran a top lap of 179.439 mph.

Bowman was followed by Kyle Larson (177.703 mph), Tyler Reddick (177.607), Kurt Busch (177.375) and Matt DiBenedetto (176.609).

Click here for full practice report

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Cup practice is scheduled from 5:35-6:25 p.m. ET today. Qualifying will be Saturday.

Xfinity practice report at Auto Club Speedway

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Harrison Burton was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session Friday at Auto Club Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver recorded 22 laps and posted a top speed of 174.474 mph in the 25-minute session.

The top five was completed by Noah Gragson (173.779 mph), Austin Cindric (173.775), Chase Briscoe (173.578) and Brandon Jones (173.578).

Burton also had the best 10-lap average at 170.422 mph.

Gragson recorded the most laps in the session with 25.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

Noah Gragson led the way for the Xfinity Series in the opening practice session that saw more than half the 50-minute period under caution at Auto Club Speedway

Gragson ran a top lap of 177.139 mph. He was followed by Austin Cindric (176.022), Daniel Hemric (175.400), Brandon Jones (175.366) and Harrison Burton (175.187).

Click here for full practice report

Alex Labbe brought out the caution when an oil line came loose and he put oil down on the track. The cleanup took about 20 minutes.

Tommy Joe Martins brought out the caution late in the session with smoke coming from the car and then a small fire in the right front of the car.