Keselowski Wins in Wild Finish at Bristol

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - MAY 31: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, cross the finish line to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on May 31, 2020 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

A week after a surprise win in NASCAR’s longest race, Brad Keselowski was surprised again Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski won the NASCAR Cup Supermarket Heroes 500 inheriting the lead with 3 laps to go after Chase Elliott and Joey Logano tangled and ended up in the wall.  Denny Hamlin was leading on a restart after the races 16 of 17 caution with Logano second followed by Elliott, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

“I think everybody on this Discount Tire Ford Mustang team is gonna go to Vegas.  Is it open yet? “Keselowski said. “Because things have been going our way from the luck of the draw on the qualifying to the last few laps there.”

Keselowski, who had pitted from ninth during caution 15 on lap 458 while the leaders stayed out, had moved to fifth with 20 laps to go.  Logano was looking for the lead and he and Hamlin got together with under 10 laps to go.  Hamlin was sent spinning and hit by the 78 of BJ Mcleod ending Hamlin’s day after he led a race high 131 laps.

The green came out with five laps to go with Logano leading being chased by Elliott and Keselowski fourth. With two to go, Elliott and Logano got together sliding up into the wall and giving Keselowski a clear lane.  Keselowski held on to win by .471 over Clint Bowyer who has also pitted during the lap 458 caution. Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Kyle Busch and Erik Jones.

“I could see Joey and Chase were getting really racy there and I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” Keselowski said. “But I knew if I kept my eye open something good might happen and, sure enough, it did.  An incredible day. “

The race had a total of 17 cautions the biggest coming on lap 235 when Matt Kenseth got loose exiting turn 2 forcing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to checkup, Johnson made contact with Stenhouse sending Stenhouse’s Ford spinning down into the inside wall at the entrance of turn 3 and back up the track collecting the cars of Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch and Cole Custer.  All but Busch were done for the day.

The violent crash forced NASCAR to stop the race for just over 11 minutes.

Keselowski, who started on pole thanks to a random draw, led the second most laps on the day 115, and overcame a pit road speeding penalty on lap 330 to score his third win at Bristol, his second of the season and the 32nd of his career.

“It’s great,” Keselowski said.  “Bristol is a tremendous track.  I wish there were all these fans here to see it, but that’s how it goes.”

Austin Dillon was sixth followed by Kurt Busch, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace rounding out the top 10.  Logano was scored 21st, Elliott, who led 88 laps and won both stages, finished 22nd.

“He wrecked me,” Logano said after talking to Elliott on pit road.  “He got loose underneath me.  The part that’s frustrating is that afterwards a simple apology — like be a man and come up to someone and say, ‘Hey, my bad.’  But I had to force an apology, which, to me, is childish.  Anyways, man, we had a good recovery with our Autotrader Mustang and had a shot to win.  That’s all you can hope for.  I passed him clean.  It’s hard racing at the end, I get that.  It’s hard racing, but, golly, man, be a man and take the hit when you’re done with it.”

This was the fifth race back after the season was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  There were no fans and minimal crews. The same scenario will be in effect when the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday to make up the race that would have been run on March 15 had the pandemic not closed all sporting events across the country.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Food City presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Sunday, May 31, 2020

1. (1)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500.

2. (23)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.

3. (24)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.

4. (7)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500.

5. (15)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 500.

6. (20)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.

7. (12)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 500.

8. (13)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 500.

9. (35)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 500.

10. (36)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 500.

11. (8)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.

12. (33)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 500.

13. (18)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 500.

14. (25)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 500.

15. (17)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 500.

16. (14)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 500.

17. (10)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.

18. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 500.

19. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 500.

20. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.

21. (3)  Joey Logano, Ford, 500.

22. (6)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.

23. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 496.

24. (34)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 494.

25. (40)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 492.

26. (31)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 489.

27. (28)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 483.

28. (39)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, Accident, 477.

29. (2)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 470.

30. (30)  Gray Gaulding, Ford, Accident, 456.

31. (9)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 456.

32. (32)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, Fuel Pressure, 375.

33. (27)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Too Slow, 302.

34. (16)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 228.

35. (22)  Cole Custer #, Ford, Accident, 228.

36. (21)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 228.

37. (11)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 228.

38. (26)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 203.

39. (29)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 201.

40. (4)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 199.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  80.338 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 19 Mins, 2 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .471 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  17 for 102 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Keselowski 1-62;C. Elliott 63;M. DiBenedetto 64-67;B. Keselowski 68-83;R. Blaney 84-104;C. Elliott 105-130;R. Blaney 131-169;B. Keselowski 170-203;C. Elliott 204-223;J. Logano 224;C. Elliott 225-255;D. Hamlin 256-277;K. Busch 278-329;C. Elliott 330;K. Busch 331-360;D. Hamlin 361-416;K. Busch 417-434;C. Elliott 435;D. Hamlin 436-488;C. Elliott 489-496;J. Logano 497;B. Keselowski 498-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin 3 times for 131 laps; Brad Keselowski 4 times for 115 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 100 laps; Chase Elliott 7 times for 88 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 60 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 4 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,12,2,10,22,4,21,11,47,48

Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,11,4,22,18,14,24,20,2,17

Greg Engle