Brad Keselowski Takes Advantage of Late Wreck at Bristol Motor Speedway

On Sunday afternoon the NASCAR Cup Series traveled to Bristol, Tennessee for 500 laps around “The Last Great Colosseum” in the first short track race of the season. At the end of the day it was Brad Keselowski who was victorious, leading 116 laps on his way to his second victory of the season.

“Oh my goodness, I think everyone on this Discount Tire Ford Mustang team is going to [Las] Vegas. Is it open yet? Because things have been going our way” Keselowski told FOX Sports post-race.  “From the luck of the draw in the qualifying and the last few laps. We couldn’t get anything to go our way at the start of the race.” 

Because of the excessive tire wear of Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR decided to have two competition cautions; the first on Lap 20, the second on Lap 60.

The first caution of the race came on Lap 6, when the No. 6 of Ryan Newman spun on his own. The first of the two competition cautions split the field with around half the leaders going to pit road. The second competition caution brought everyone to the pits for fresh tires and fuel. 

The No. 9 of Chase Elliott passed the No. 12 of Ryan Blaney for the lead on Lap 105, ultimately leading to his fourth stage win of the season. Blaney won the race off pit road under caution and led the field to green for the start of Stage Two.

Stage One:

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Kevin Harvick
  7. Matt Dibenedetto
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  10. Jimmie Johnson

After coming up one spot short of a stage win in the first stage, Blaney was the cause of the fifth caution when he spun in turn two and collected the No. 13 of Ty Dillon. After this incident, Blaney had to retire from the race. 

Lap 211 brought trouble to the No. 51 of Joey Gase when he had a problem on the backstretch. When they returned to green, the caution flew immediately when Gase’s teammate, the No. 53 of Bayley Currey, was stalled on track.

The eighth caution on Lap 228 took out more big names: Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Others who were involved in this incident were: Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Preece, Michael McDowell and Matt Dibenedetto. This wreck caused NASCAR to throw the red flag for a total time of 0:11:35.

After getting into the preceding incident, Preece brought out the yellow flag with 12 laps to go in Stage Two. This caution led to a seven lap dash to the end of the stage, in which Elliott was triumphant.

Stage Two:

  1. Chase Elliott
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. William Byron
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Chris Buescher

Elliott decided to come down pit road under the stage break; he started 12th after the top eleven cars stayed out. 

The No. 17 of Chris Buescher tagged the wall and a few laps later, his tire went down and brought out the caution on Lap 268.

The No. 3 of Austin Dillon was having a really strong day coming off a successful week in Charlotte until he had a tire go down on Lap 328 which resulted in the 12th yellow flag. 

Newman’s struggles continued when he spun on his own for the second time on Lap 354, bringing out caution thirteen.

With 89 laps to go, a battle for the lead started to form between Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. The battle slowly fizzled out as Johnson got past Busch and Elliott got into the back of Daniel Suarez as the leaders were putting him another lap down.

Big names continued to struggle as the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick and the No. 20 of Erik Jones both had tires go down with 68 laps to go, bringing out the caution.

As the battle for the lead between Hamlin and Elliott was rekindling, the yellow flag flew for the fifteenth time on Lap 258.

When the green flag was waved, chaos ensued as Martin Truex Jr. spun and collected Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell with 36 to go.

With 12 to go Hamlin hits the wall, in the next corner Logano makes the same mistake Hamlin made causing Hamlin to check up and spin into the No. 78 of BJ McLeod.

With two to go, Elliott got loose under Logano, Logano hit the wall, dropping back to 21st while Elliott fell all the way to 22nd. Brad Keselowski snuck his way through the carnage and went on to win the Food City Supermarket Heroes 500.

Top 10:

  1. Brad Keselowksi
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Erik Jones
  6. Austin Dillon
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. William Byron
  9. Christopher Bell
  10. Bubba Wallace

Next week the NASCAR Cup Series goes to Atlanta Motor Speedway, the track at which NASCAR put it’s season on hold, for the running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. That race will be aired on FOX at 3:00pm EST on Sunday, May 31st.

Josh Slate