Keselowski capitalizes on another Elliott mistake; wins wild race at Bristol

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Through countless cautions, plentiful lead changes and timely contact between leading drivers, Brad Keselowski would come out victorious at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday evening. 

With the victory, Keselowski collected his third career win at Bristol, second win on the season, and 32nd win of his career. 

Keselowski, who started on the pole, pushed to a second-plus lead and maintained it through the first and second competition cautions in stage one. The No. 2 Ford for Team Penske would maintain the top position until Penske teammate Ryan Blaney would pass him on lap 85. Chase Elliott, meanwhile, would run into the top three and pass Blaney with 20 to go in stage one. With the lead, Elliott has led at least once in seven of nine races this season.  Elliott would hold the top position to win stage one.

Blaney would then win the ensuing pit race and retake the lead to begin stage two. The 26-year-old would remain in first through the first 78 laps of the stage before Keselowski would retake the lead on lap 171. Blaney would remain in second until he got loose on lap 198 and destroyed the bumper and front of the car. Ty Dillon would create further damage to Blaney’s car when he plowed into the front as he tried to get out of the way in the top lane. Both Dillon’s and Blaney’s day would come to an end and would finish 39th and 40th respectively.

The green flag quickly waved red soon after, as a massive wreck on lap 229 involved eight cars, including Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. After Matt Kenseth got loose on the back straightaway, Stenhouse looked to check up but made contact with Jimmie Johnson after the No. 48 clipped Stenhouse’s rear. Stenhouse lost control and spun into traffic, which caused heavy damage to Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer. Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Preece also collected damage. Stenhouse, Custer, Reddick and Bowman would all finish 34th-37th, respectively. 

Elliott would pick up his fifth stage win on the year upon the conclusion of stage two. The fourth and fifth stage wins on the day helped him surpass Bowman for the most stage wins among all drivers in the season so far.

Hamlin, who finished the stage in second, would stay out and start in first to begin the final stage. Hamlin would maintain the lead for over 20 laps before Kyle Busch would collect his first lead of the day on lap 278. 

Kyle Busch would hold the lead until Hamlin would take the lead back on lap 361. Hamlin would keep the lead over his teammate for 54 laps before Kyle would again take the inside lane and clear Hamlin for the lead on lap 417. 

The see-saw battle between the two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers continued, as Hamlin would take back the lead on lap 436. Logano would soon vault back into the top three and battle with both drivers for the top position.

With 11 laps to go, Hamlin spun out after Logano got loose on the top lane and made contact with Hamlin, who was running behind him. Hamlin would finish 17th

Once the green flag was waved on lap 496, Logano and Elliott, both back at the top of the field, quickly made their moves to get the top position. With the white flag waving, Elliott would bump into Logano and get loose. The contact between the two would then cause both to scrape into the wall and fall back. Keselowski, who was running closely behind, would take control and claim the win.

Logano would finish 21st and Elliott would finish 22nd. It is Logano’s worst finish at Bristol since April 19, 2015 ( 40th). The finish for Elliott, meanwhile, is his worst finish at Bristol since April 16, 2018 (29th).

Kyle Busch would finish fourth. The finish would be his fifth top-five finish at Bristol in his last six Cup races there. 

With his 11th-place finish, Kevin Harvick’s consecutive top-10 finishes is snapped at 13, dating back to Kansas Speedway last season. His last finish outside the top 10 came on October 14, 2019 at Talladega, where he finished 17th.

The Cup Series will continue its southern stretch next Sunday with a trip to Hampton, Georgia at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

Race results: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/05/31/2020-09cup-results.pdf

Driver points: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/05/01/2020-09cup-points.pdf

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