Brad Keselowski Wins The STP 500; Earns First Martinsville Grandfather Clock As A Driverby Hunter Thomas April 2, 2017 0 comments
RIDGEWAY, Va. – As the laps ticked away in Sunday’s STP 500, Brad Keselowski wore down Kyle Busch en route to his first-ever win at Martinsville Speedway.
Keselowski made the race winning pass with just 43 laps to go. The Rochester Hills, Michigan native has finished runner-up at the speedway on two occasions, but he had never won the coveted grandfather clock as a driver until Sunday. The win marks the first victory for Ford Performance at Martinsville Speedway since 2002.
“This is awesome,” Keselowski said. “We’ve ran so good here with the Miller Lite Ford, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home. Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks. The guys that run well everywhere run well here, and it’s really just an honor to win here and get to compete here. This track is 70 years old and a lot of legends have won here. It feels great to be able to join them and bring home a clock. A lot of people don’t know this, but those clocks are built in my hometown in Rochester Hills, Michigan, so it’s cool to get one of them from back home. I have one as a truck owner, but not as a driver, so I’m glad to bring one back as a driver.”
Although Kyle Busch led a race high of 274 laps, which is more than half of the race, he still came up just short of the victory to finish second. Busch entered the weekend as the defending winner of the race, but on Sunday he just wasn’t able to keep up with Keselowski’s Team Penske No. 2 Miller Lite Ford in the closing laps. The last caution came out on lap 432, so Busch wasn’t able to make any final, late-race adjustments or capitalize on a restart.
“My pit crew did great today,” Busch said. “(Crew chief) Adam (Stevens) and the guys did an awesome job on this car this weekend to get it to where it was. We were lights out faster than those guys after 20, 20 laps or so you know. There that run it was at minimum at least three tenths slower the entire time and that’s why Brad (Keselowski) just was able to drive away there at the end. We were really really really struggling. I’m surprised I held off the 24 (Chase Elliott), but you know overall just not quite getting the finishes we need with our M&M’s Camry.”
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished third in his No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet. Prior to Sunday, Elliott’s best finish at Martinsville Speedway was a 12th that he captured last year. On Sunday, the third-place finish marked the third top-five that he has captured throughout the 2017 season.
“We hopefully have a good direction and we can build on this for the fall,” Elliott said. “This was an important race and we’d love to have a good run then.”
Joey Logano and Austin Dillon Completed the top-five. AJ Allmendinger captured a strong run for JTG Daugherty Racing after he crossed the finish line in the sixth position. Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-10.
Throughout the 250-lap race, there 18 lead changes among seven drivers. There were also 14 cautions for 95 laps.
Pole-sitter, Kyle Larson had a rough 17th-place finish, but he continues to lead the point standings by only 4 points over Chase Elliott. Martin Truex Jr. is third, 32 points back from the lead.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 9 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Live broadcast for the event will air on FOX and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Tyler Goodson/TheFourthTurn.com