Brad Keselowski gave Group Penske and the brand new Ford Mustang its third Cup victory by way of the primary six races of the season by routing the sphere at Martinsville Speedway.
Keselowski led 446 of the 500 laps across the shortest monitor on the NASCAR schedule and was solely challenged a handful of occasions by Chase Elliott — the one driver to go Keselowski on the monitor Sunday.
Though Elliott led 49 laps, a late warning despatched the sphere to pit street and Keselowski beat Elliott again to the monitor. Elliott might by no means get shut sufficient to problem Keselowski for the win once more.
“The automotive was actually good. Only a nice day for a workforce,” Keselowski stated. “Simply a type of days you dream of as a race automotive driver, the place you’ve got received a terrific automotive.”
The 446 laps led is probably the most for a successful driver since Kyle Petty led 484 to win at Rockingham in 1992. It was probably the most laps Keselowski has ever led in a single race, passing the mark of 312 laps out entrance at Texas Motor Speedway in 2015.
He credited the offseason work by Ford, which rolled out a brand new Cup automotive at first of the season, and the Group Penske pit stops that received him off pit street first each time he got here in for service.
“Ford labored actually exhausting within the offseason to construct these vehicles and make them actual sturdy and up to now, so good,” stated Keselowski. “It is only a nice day for our workforce, superior execution on pit street. These guys work actually exhausting.”
Ford has three wins this season, all from Group Penske, whereas Toyota received the opposite three races.
Martinsville, a paperclip-shaped monitor at zero.526 miles, sometimes forces drivers to gouge one another out of the way in which. The tight confines of the tiny Virginia monitor raises the aggravation ranges for many of the discipline and normally results in bumping, banging and busted-up race vehicles. However NASCAR’s new guidelines bundle, in its first cease at a brief monitor, appeared to hamper drivers’ capacity to shut on the chief and it restricted passing alternatives.
The one time Elliott did go Keselowski, he studied Elliott’s traces and took notes for when he was again out entrance.
“He was definitely quicker on that brief run, and when he handed me I discovered simply sufficient,” Keselowski stated. “The pit crew received me again in entrance of him on the following to final pit cease, and I appeared to form of apply the teachings.”
Keselowski began the race third behind teammate Joey Logano, who led the primary 5 laps of the race. Keselowski briefly nudged Logano out of the groove on the sixth lap and took off for the rout that earned him his second Martinsville grandfather clock.
Elliott completed second in a Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports — the primary top-five end for a Hendrick driver this season.
“I felt like we had been about as even with him as we might be,” stated Elliott, who second-guessed the timing of one in all his makes an attempt to go Keselowski.
“When he did get the lead, there was somewhat benefit to being out entrance, having the ability to work site visitors … I attempted to maneuver up there on the finish, and I do not know if I might have gotten to him. Perhaps if I moved up somewhat sooner, perhaps subsequent time.”
Kyle Busch was third in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch had received two consecutive Cup races earlier than Sunday, the Truck Collection race Saturday at Martinsville, and was searching for a weekend sweep. Busch notched his fifth top-five end of the season whereas making his 1,000th profession NASCAR nationwide sequence begin.
“We fought exhausting for at the moment’s end, not a end that we needed to get,” Busch stated. “Thought we had an opportunity to win really, however might have been a complete lot worse. We’ll go on.”
Penske driver Ryan Blaney was fourth, whereas Gibbs driver and five-time Martinsville winner Denny Hamlin was fifth.
Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer had been sixth and seventh, Gibbs driver Martin Truex Jr. was eighth, then SHR drivers Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez accomplished the highest 10.
Ford drivers took six spots within the high 10, whereas Gibbs and Toyota claimed three of the slots.
Jimmie Johnson leads all lively drivers with 9 victories at Martinsville, however his struggles spanning greater than a 12 months continued Sunday. He was lapped in the course of the second stage and completed 24th. Since successful the autumn 2016 race, Johnson has not completed increased than 12th.
NO REPEAT WINNER
Clint Bowyer was the defending race winner and labored his technique to fifth as he exited pit street from a pit cease within the third stage. However he was penalized for dashing onto pit street and dropped to the again of the pack on the restart.
“Properly, there went that,” he moaned over his radio.
Bowyer was flagged for dashing on the following spherical of pit stops, too, and completed sixth.
NASCAR goes to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Kyle Busch received the race final April.