Age triumphed over youth Saturday night. Brad Keselowski pulled away on an overtime restart and held off Alex Bowman and Erik Jones to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.
It was the first overtime finish in a spring race at Kansas Speedway, and the third win of the season for Keselowski. The Team Penske driver led only 12 laps but had been near the front in the final stages.
When Matt DiBenedetto lost an engine with 4 laps to go, the race’s seventh and final caution waved with Keselowski in the lead with Jones and Bowman close behind.
On the restart the top three were fanned out, but Keselowski was able to rocket ahead and thanks in large part to a duel between Jones and Bowman, held on to win by .205 seconds.
“Alex Bowman ran an incredible race,” Keselowski said. “I feel kind of bad. I think I kinda stole one from him. He was one of the best cars, him and Kevin Harvick. We just had a little fresher tires and I was able to catch the traffic just right to make the move on him and from there we were able to get the win.”
Chase Elliott who led 45 laps and won Stage 2 was fourth with Clint Bowyer fifth.
The second place for Bowman was bittersweet as he was leading in the closing laps. He led a total of 63 laps but had to settle for his third second place finish in a row.
“Just made some bad calls there through lapped traffic and got tied off, had to lift, and then the 2 (Keselowski) was able to drive around us,” Bowman said. “Wish we were standing here with three wins in a row, and things could have gone differently, and that could be the case, but we’ll keep digging next week and try to go get in the All-Star (Race), go win the All-Star and then go try to win the (Coca-Cola) 600.”
Polesitter, and defending race winner, Kevin Harvick had the car to beat early on. He led a race high 105 laps and won Stage 1, but saw his race come apart on lap 178 of the 267 laps when he radioed his crew that he had a possible right front tire going down while leading and pitted under green. The crew found nothing wrong with the tire but did pull a large piece of debris off the grill. He would lose a lap but got that back; he was never able to rally back to the front however and finished 13th.
It was Elliott who made the biggest rally. His No. 9 Chevy was one of 11 cars that failed pre-race inspection and had to start from the rear of the field. Elliott’s was one of three cars (Joey Logano and Kyle Larson) who failed twice and had their respective car chiefs ejected.
Kyle Busch was in contention and charging towards the front when he was penalized for going through too many pit boxes during a caution for a rogue tire that had rolled across pit lane on lap 217. He fought his way back but right after a restart with 23 laps to go made contact when he tried to squeeze between Bowyer and Jones. A subsequent tire rub on his Toyota forced him to the pits and left him 30th three laps down.
Jimmie Johnson was sixth, Kurt Busch seventh, Larson was eighth with Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher rounding out the top 10.
The 1.5-mile speedway seemed to the perfect showcase for NASCAR’s new higher-downforce, lower-horsepower competition package as the wide lanes allowed for three and four wide racing with chaotic restarts and furious racing throughout the pack.
“That was scrappy,” Jones said. “With this package you just have to be really scrappy and really fight for every spot. They’re just really valuable and really tough to get.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be testing more enhancements to the new package next week in next Saturday night’s non-points All-Star Race at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Digital Ally 400
Kansas City, Kansas
Saturday, May 11, 2019
1. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 271.
2. (5) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 271.
3. (6) Erik Jones, Toyota, 271.
4. (32) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 271.
5. (2) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 271.
6. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 271.
7. (9) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 271.
8. (35) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 271.
9. (21) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, 271.
10. (18) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 271.
11. (14) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 271.
12. (33) Aric Almirola, Ford, 271.
13. (1) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 271.
14. (34) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 271.
15. (30) Joey Logano, Ford, 270.
16. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 270.
17. (15) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 270.
18. (17) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 270.
19. (31) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 270.
20. (3) William Byron, Chevrolet, 270.
21. (26) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 270.
22. (16) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 270.
23. (19) Ryan Newman, Ford, 269.
24. (10) Paul Menard, Ford, 269.
25. (22) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 269.
26. (37) Michael McDowell, Ford, 269.
27. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 269.
28. (36) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 269.
29. (7) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 269.
30. (8) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 268.
31. (27) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 268.
32. (13) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 264.
33. (23) Bayley Currey(i), Ford, 263.
34. (25) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 263.
35. (29) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 262.
36. (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Engine, 261.
37. (38) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 261.
38. (40) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 258.
39. (39) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 257.
40. (28) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 245.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.023 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 6 Mins, 9 Secs. Margin of Victory: .205 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 41 laps.
Lead Changes: 23 among 12 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 1-32;W. Byron 33-36;C. Bowyer 37-48;K. Harvick 49-62;C. Elliott 63-65;K. Busch 66;C. Elliott 67-72;K. Harvick 73-83;R. Chastain(i) 84;K. Busch 85-91;K. Harvick 92-122;C. Elliott 123;A. Bowman 124;C. Buescher 125-134;R. Stenhouse Jr. 135-142;B. Keselowski 143;M. Tifft # 144;C. Elliott 145-162;K. Harvick 163-178;A. Bowman 179-228;C. Elliott 229-245;R. Stenhouse Jr. 246-248;A. Bowman 249-260;B. Keselowski 261-271.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick 5 times for 104 laps; Alex Bowman 3 times for 63 laps; Chase Elliott 5 times for 45 laps; Clint Bowyer 1 time for 12 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 12 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 times for 11 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 10 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 7 laps; William Byron 1 time for 4 laps; Matt Tifft # 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap; Ross Chastain(i) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 1,14,17,2,20,22,37,4,42,9
Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,14,17,18,20,37,4,42,88,9