Brad Keselowski had a car that was unbeatable. It started out of the gate on the pole and finished in the winning position Saturday night in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He led 199 out of the 267 laps in the race.
As he celebrated in Victory Lane with his crew, a champagne bottle exploded in Keselowski’s right hand which required a trip to the infield care center. That wasn’t about to cork his night. He returned to Victory Lane four stitches later to continue the celebration.
Keselowski and his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano traded the lead for much of the contest until Kyle Busch parted the sea. He took the lead after the last round of pit stops when a caution came out for a blown right front tire on Aric Almirola’s Ford on lap 215. Busch would stay in the lead for 27 laps. Lapped traffic played into Keselowski’s favor as he was able to close the gap on Busch’s Toyota and take back the lead with 20 laps to go. It was smooth sailing from there as Keselowski drove his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford straight to Victory Lane.
The Team Penske Fords were tough to beat. Joey Logano had pit stops that put him out in front but he couldn’t hold the lead for long as his teammate would power past him after a few laps. Logano’s engine started having issues on lap 145 but despite the flaw Logano would finish ninth.
Ryan Newman had a good run on the night in his Richard Childress Racing Chevy. He kept it in the top ten for most of the race. He restarted in the second position after the last caution and fought Kyle Busch for the top spot, but fell to second. Keselowski would pass him for the second spot on his way to the front. Newman would finish in the third position – a season high finish for him.
Matt Kenseth made a valiant effort to return to the top ten after a race with ups and downs. He started 14th and hung around there for a while. He got up inside the top ten when he suddenly slowed on lap 121. He had a right front tire going down. He got to his pit and his crew changed the tires. He came out of the pits one lap down. Four laps later a caution came out which trapped him outside the top 20. He would begin to battle back but a pit road speeding penalty would put him in a deficit. It didn’t phase him as the kept picking off cars in the field to end up in the fourth spot.
Tony Stewart had quite a handful of a race car. He started 41st after making a transmission change and by lap 61 he was already 23rd. He got up into the top ten after gaining track position on pit stops and had a strong finish in 11th.
The night ended quickly for Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson after both drivers fell victim to tire issues. Denny Hamlin slammed hard into the outside wall after a right front tire cut down on him on lap 29. The same thing would happen to Kyle Larson on Lap 77. Both cars sustained too much damage to continue in the race. Three cars gathered some damage on lap 153 when Alex Bowman got loose. His tires created so much smoke that Aric Almirola couldn’t see and got into Jamie McMurray’s car. Kasey Kahne caught a little bit of that accident, but was able to continue to a top ten finish. Both Almirola’s car and McMurray’s car had to have extensive repairs. It was after Almirola’s second accident due to a flat right front tire when he would retire from the race.
The top ten: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, and Jimmie Johnson.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be Saturday, July 5 for the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET.