Sunday, March 5, 2017

Keselowski Wins at Atlanta When Harvick Falters

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Brad Keselowski won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday after taking the lead following a late restart.

Keselowski ran up front for much of the race, but it seemed he would finish second after Kevin Harvick dominated throughout the day.  But Harvick was penalized for speeding on pit road during the final pit stop of the race, which sent him to the back for the following restart.  With Harvick out of the way, Keselowski ran down Kyle Larson to take the lead with seven laps remaining.
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Keselowski said he didn’t have the best car, but his team was able to overcome their own misfortune to pick up the victory.

“Kevin was very, very strong, and probably was the guy to beat,” Keselowski said.  “We had our own issues with the tire and a loose wheel, and just fought through it all day.  We persevered.”

Keselowski said he was proud of his team for overcoming a crash in the season-opening Daytona 500 to win at Atlanta.

“I thought we were one of the cars to beat at Daytona, but kind of got wrecked out there and didn’t get to show our potential,” Keselowski said.  “Everybody kept their heads up and moved on to the next week.  This is what you get when you give that kind of effort.”

Harvick led 292 of 325 laps on Sunday, but the speeding penalty with 14 laps to go was too much to overcome.  Harvick said he was disappointed for costing his team a chance at the victory.

“I really hate it for everyone on this [team],” Harvick said.  “They put a great car under me and did everything I thought they needed to do…I was just going too fast on pit road apparently.”

Larson took the lead on the final restart, and it seemed as though he would pull away from the field to take the victory.  But after running the low line all day, Larson moved up to the top of the track in the closing laps, and that allowed Keselowski to get around him for the lead.

Larson said he tried to take Keselowski’s line away from him, but the plan backfired.

“I raced around Brad a lot throughout the day, and anytime I was in front of him on a short run he’d drive around me on the top,” Larson said.  “I knew I was going to have to take his line away on that restart.”

“I got to that high line and I just didn’t have enough grip out there in the lead.”

Unofficial results:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kyle Larson
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Chase Elliott
6. Joey Logano
7. Kurt Busch
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Jamie McMurray
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Trevor Bayne
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
14. Erik Jones
15. Ty Dillon
16. Kyle Busch
17. Danica Patrick
18. Ryan Blaney
19. Jimmie Johnson
20. Cole Whitt
21. Daniel Suarez
22. Landon Cassill
23. David Ragan
24. Chris Buescher
25. Paul Menard
26. AJ Allmendinger
27. Aric Almirola
28. Matt DiBenedetto
29. Michael McDowell
30. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
31. Reed Sorenson
32. Austin Dillon
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
34. Corey LaJoie
35. Ryan Newman
36. Derrike Cope
37. Gray Gaulding
38. Denny Hamlin
39. Cody Ware

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

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