Brad Keselowski overcomes flu to win at Atlanta; becomes all-time leader in wins for Team Penske

Yesterday, Brad Keselowski did not even know if he would be racing today after coming down with the flu that kept him out of final practice. Just over 24 hours later, he is a winner once again at Atlanta Motor Speedway and is locked into the playoffs. With today’s win, Keselowski has broken the tie with Mark Donohue as the winningest driver with Team Penske.

The race started off with Aric Almirola leading all but one lap before the competition caution at lap 35. Kyle Larson would win the race off pit road and went on to win stage 1. Almirola would suffer a penalty on pit road after stage 1 and could not contend for the win after. Joey Logano had been running a good race but complained multiple times about Alex Bowman boxing him in on pit road and costing him track position. Larson would lead for a majority of stage 2, but towards the end of the stage, he struggled with handling and Kevin Harvick ended up winning stage 2 after a great battle for the lead with Larson. Larson took the lead to start stage 3 but suffered a speeding penalty on pit road after a caution involving Kyle Busch. Ryan Blaney would take the lead on the restart and lead until the caution came out after Ryan Preece slammed into BJ McLeod on pit road. Preece was having a top-10 run before the incident that ended up taking him out of the race. The caution shoveled the field greatly due to it taking place while drivers were making green flag pit stops. Logano took the lead on the restart with 44 to go, but his Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski would quickly catch and pass him for the lead with 25 laps to go. As the laps kept winding down, Logano and Blaney would suffer tire issues which made Keselowski slow his pace so that he would not have the same tire issues as his teammates. Martin Truex Jr. was able to run down Keselowski with 2 laps to go, but Keselowski ran the right grooves to hold off Truex Jr. and take the victory.

Biggest Surprise: The new aero package

  • For the majority of the day, the racing was superb. The restarts were insane with drivers going three and four-wide. During the long runs, no drivers were able to completely dominate or pull away from the field.
  • The results were fascinating and showed just how even the cars have become. Kurt Busch finished 3rd in his Chip Ganassi ride. Chris Buescher finished 9th for JTG Daugherty Racing. Daniel Hemric and Ryan Preece were having top-10 days before their issues.

Biggest Disappointment: Hendrick Motorsports

  • The Chevy Camaro is not the problem anymore as Larson, Kurt Busch, Hemric, Preece, and Buescher were all having solid days. The highest finisher for Hendrick was Alex Bowman in 15th. William Byron finished 17th, Chase Elliott finished 19th, and Jimmie Johnson finished 24th(two laps down).

Final Thoughts

  • The aero package may just be a success after all. We believed going into Atlanta that the package would struggle due to the abrasiveness of the unpaved track, but it was solid. Next week, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will have a lot more grip, so we are going to see a lot more drafting and three-wide racing.

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