Hours after he took two IV bags in preparation for the race, Keselowski led the final 33 laps and held off a charging Martin Truex Jr. to score the win. It’s his first win since the playoff opener last year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It’s Keselowski’s second Atlanta win in three years. He’s finished in the top two in each of his last three starts there.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to one, my wife (Paige), who is standing in the back, she was sick just like I was and she took great care of me along with everybody in the care center,” Keselowski said. “I couldn’t be here today without them. … And Doug Yates. We ran over a piece of debris with probably 50 laps to go and overheated really bad. I thought there was no way this engine would make it to the end. But Doug Yates and his team do a great job.”
Truex’s runner-up finish is his best Atlanta result in 21 starts.
“I could taste that one,” Truex told Fox. “I really wanted that first Atlanta win. The 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) rode there in front of us forever and ever running the bottom, and I kept telling him I needed the bottom, and these cars are just so bad in dirty air that he was holding me up really bad. Once I got around him, I got to (Keselowski) in two laps. I just needed one more.”
Kyle Larson led a race-high 142 laps before a pit road speeding penalty early in the final stage sent the Chip Ganassi Racing driver deep in the field. He finished 12th.
The highlight of the first two stages of the race was a battle for the lead between Larson and Harvick inside 20 laps to go in Stage 2.
The two drivers swapped the lead three times over 10 laps with Harvick claiming the lead for good with eight laps left when Larson got sideways in Turn 4. Harvick won the stage with a three-second lead over Larson.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kyle Busch bounced back to finish sixth after he cut his right rear tire with 102 laps left in the race, causing the first caution for an incident … Pole-sitter Aric Almirola fought back from a pit road speeding penalty to place eighth … Chris Buescher finished ninth for his best Atlanta result in four starts. It’s his ninth career top 10.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who started second, finished 18th after he was caught speeding on pit road … Ryan Preece placed 35th after he rammed into the back of BJ McLeod’s car on pit road with 53 laps to go.
NOTABLE: Brad Keselowski earned his 60th overall win with Team Penske, making him the winningest driver in the team’s history … Anthony Pasut, the fueler on Chris Buescher’s car, is awake and alert after the Ryan Preece-BJ McLeod pit road incident. Pasut was pinned by McLeod’s car after it was spun by Preece.
WHAT’S NEXT: Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on March 3 on Fox