Brad Keselowski simply stole a win at Bristol on Sunday.
Keselowski took advantage of two crashes as drivers were racing for the lead ahead of him to win for the second time in three races.
The second crash happened between Chase Elliott and Joey Logano with less than three laps to go. Elliott got to the inside of Logano but his car snapped loose in the corner. Elliott slid into Logano and the two went into the wall as Keselowski drove on past.
Elliott and Logano’s crash was preceded by a restart for a caution caused by Denny Hamlin’s spin while racing for the lead. Hamlin spun after he was racing with Elliott and Logano for the lead.
“Oh my goodness. I think everyone on this Discount Tire Ford Mustang team is going to go to Vegas,” Keselowski said. “Is it open yet?”
Keselowski was fifth when Hamlin spun after working his way into the top five on fresher tires than the cars ahead of him. But he wasn’t going to be in a position to get the win without some help. And boy, did he get some help.
“I could see Joey and Chase, they were really racey there,” Keselowski said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen but I knew if I just kept my eye open, something good might happen and it turned out it did.”
Clint Bowyer finished second. Keselowski got the win thanks to a, uh, patient call by NASCAR race control. After throwing quick cautions earlier in the race for mild wall hits by Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick, NASCAR chose to let the race finish under green after Elliott and Logano hit the wall.
Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 a week ago after he stayed out on the track when a caution flag flew with two laps to go. Elliott, the race leader, pitted for fresh tires. But seven other cars stayed out with Keselowski and Elliott restarted 11th. Keselowski held off Jimmie Johnson for the win on old tires.
Elliott and Logano talk it out
Elliott and Logano had a pit road conversation after the exited their cars. And put on their masks, of course. Logano told Fox that he had to coax an apology out of Elliott.
“He wrecked me. He got loose underneath me,” Logano said. “The part that’s frustrating is afterwards, a simple apology, like be a man and come up to someone and say ‘My bad.’ But I had to force an apology, which to me, is just childish.”
“It’s hard racing at the end. I get that. It’s hard racing,” he said. “But golly man, be a man and take the hit when you’re done with it.”
Elliott said that he felt like that moment was his shot at the lead.
“Just going for the win and trying to get a run underneath him. I don’t know if I had a tire going down or if I just got loose on entry but as soon as I turned off the wall, I had zero chance in making it,” Elliott said. “I’ll certainly take the blame.”
Blaney’s bad Bristol luck
Ryan Blaney was running second when saved his car from a spin during the second stage of Sunday’s race. And he still finished last.
Why? Well, just watch.
It’s the second time in three years that Blaney has been caught in a crash while running near the front at Bristol. He led 100 laps in the 2018 spring race at the track and finished 35th after he couldn’t avoid a crash ahead of him. He led 60 laps on Sunday, the fourth time in the last five races at Bristol that he’s led at least 60 laps.
We’re betting that Blaney will win a race at Bristol sometime soon.
Jimmie Johnson finishes third
Is Johnson getting closer and closer to ending his winless streak? Johnson hasn’t won a Cup Series race in three years. But he was a top-10 fixture on Sunday and even got up to as high as second in the final stage.
Johnson ultimately finished third, ahead of Kyle Busch and Erik Jones. And it’s hard not to see the seven-time champion winning a race in his final season given the speed that Hendrick Motorsports has shown so far. The team has won two races already this season and Elliott was in line for a potential third win in nine races if it wasn’t for that final crash.
After Johnson missed the playoffs for the first time in 2019, it would be fun to see him end his Cup Series career on a better note. And while he was disqualified after running second at Charlotte a week ago, it’s pretty clear that things are better in 2020 than they were in 2019.
An enjoyable race
The finish to Sunday’s race will immediately make it a memorable one for most fans, even if they watched just 50 or all 500 laps. But it’s worth pointing out how enjoyable the entirety of Sunday’s event was. Especially as it was the first event at Bristol with NASCAR’s reduced downforce rules.
NASCAR admitted the mistake of high downforce at short tracks in 2019 and cut it significantly for all small tracks in 2020. On Sunday, that led to drivers on the edge in the corners and lots of moments where guys were on the edge of control. It’s fun to watch drivers muscle 3,000-plus-pound stock cars off a corner, and that’s what we got at Bristol.
Martinsville, the site of a race on June 10, was the track most impacted by the high downforce changes in 2019. If Bristol is any indication of what we could see at Martinsville in less than two weeks, the racing in Virginia will be a whole lot more fun than it was a year ago.
1. Brad Keselowski
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
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Ryan Preece
13. John Hunter Nemechek
14. Michael McDowell
15 Ryan Newman
16. Matt Kenseth
17. Denny Hamlin
18. Daniel Suarez
19. Timmy Hill
20. Martin Truex Jr.
21. Joey Logano
22. Chase Elliott
23. Chris Buescher
24. Brennan Poole
25. JJ Yeley
26. Garrett Smithley
27. Quin Houff
28. BJ McLeod
29. Aric Almirola
30. Gray Gaulding
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. Corey LaJoie
33. Joey Gase
34. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
35. Cole Custer
36. Tyler Reddick
37. Alex Bowman
38. Bayley Currey
39. Ty Dillon
40. Ryan Blaney
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