Brad Keselowski wins Southern 500 at Darlington

Kyle Larson had the fastest car at Darlington on Sunday night. The fastest car doesn’t always win. Just ask Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski got off pit road ahead of Larson on the final pit stops of the Southern 500. He sprinted out to the race lead with less than 20 laps to go and Larson or anyone else couldn’t catch him. It’s the first win for Keselowski in 2018 and is worth five bonus points for NASCAR’s playoffs.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew,” Keselowski said. “We were running second and that last stop they nailed it and got us out in the lead. I thought Kyle was really good, and he was flat-out flying. I know how it goes. In 2015 we led a bunch of laps and lost it on the last pit stop and today my team won it on the last pit stop. Then it was just about me hitting all my marks and not screwing it up.”

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Larson led 284 of the race’s 367 laps Sunday night but had a car that was much more suited to long runs than short runs. That played to Keselowski’s favor after the fast pit stop. Larson fell backward as Keselowski went forward. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano passed Larson for second and Larson had to hold off Kevin Harvick for third in the closing laps.

The win is Team Penske’s first win at Darlington since Bobby Allison swept both races at the track in 1975. Keselowski has now won a Cup race in eight-straight seasons and he said the victory was one of the biggest of his career.

Larson leads a bunch of laps and doesn’t win. Again.

Sunday night was the 10th time Larson has led over 100 laps in a Cup Series race. He’s won one of those races. It’s unfair to brand Larson a “choker” at this stage in his career but it’s fair to wonder what the heck is going on that prevents his team from closing out races. The fastest car doesn’t win every race. But a 10 percent success rate is absolutely dismal.

Keselowski needed the boost

Keselowski entered Sunday night’s race eighth in the points standings. He was fourth after Sonoma in June but fell four spots over the summer thanks to a string of poor finishes. The win Sunday night was a necessary boost for his playoff hopes. And his confidence.

As Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the 2018 season it’s been an open-ended question as to who the fourth-best driver in the series is. Keselowski now has a chance to have a great argument for that position along with Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott and Joey Logano.

Full results from Darlington

1. Brad Keselowski
2. Joey Logano
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Kurt Busch
7. Kyle Busch
8. Erik Jones
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Martin Truex Jr.
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Chris Buescher
14. Aric Almirola
15. Ryan Blaney
16. Austin Dillon
17. Paul Menard
18. David Ragan
19. Ryan Newman
20. Michael McDowell
21. Ty Dillon
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Alex Bowman
24. Kasey Kahne
25. Matt Kenseth
26. Bubba Wallace
27. Corey LaJoie
28. Ross Chastain
29. Daniel Suarez
30. Landon Cassill
31. JJ Yeley
32. BJ McLeod
33. Derrike Cope
34. Jeffrey Earnhardt
35. William Byron
36. Clint Bowyer
37. Timmy Hill
38. Matt DiBenedetto
39. Jimmie Johnson
40. Joey Gase

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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