Brad Keselowski dominates STP 500

by Justin Nguyen

Brad Keselowski will enjoy a new grandfather clock in his house. He led 446 of 500 laps in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, and held off a late charge by Chase Elliott to score his second win of the 2019 Monster Energy Cup Series season.

Joey Logano started on the pole, his first at the short track, alongside Aric Almirola. William Byron (qualified sixth), Jeb Burton (thirty-third), and D.J. Kennington (thirty-fourth) failed pre-race inspection and started at the rear.

Stage #1

Logano led the first six laps before Team Penske team-mate Keselowski bumped by him for first; stuck on the outside line, the pole sitter began to fall. Denny Hamlin eventually passed Aric Almirola to take second.

On lap 65, Michael McDowell hit the turn four wall to bring out the first caution of the day. After stops, Keselowski remained in first for the lap 71 restart, leading Elliott.

Unable to pass the leader, Elliott had to settle for second as the stage came to a close on lap 130. Behind the two were Almirola, Hamlin, Ryan BlaneyClint Bowyer, Logano, Martin Truex Jr.Kyle Busch, and Austin Dillon.

Stage #2

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The second stage began on lap 140 with Keselowski as the leader. Six laps later, the caution flag waved when Ross Chastain lost his rear axle in turn four.

The race resumed on lap 154; a strong restart pushed Hamlin past Elliott for second, though Elliott reclaimed the position on lap 173. At the front, Keselowski maintained his advantage.

Blaney took second from Elliott on lap 242. As Elliott and Hamlin continued their duel for second, the Penske duo of Keselowski and Blaney finished in the top two to end the stage. Hamlin beat Elliott for third, while Truex took fifth; after them were Almirola, Kevin Harvick, Bowyer, Daniel Suárez, and Logano.

Stage #3

Between stages, Hamlin and Ty Dillon were penalised for uncontrolled tyre and speeding on pit road, respectively.

Keselowski led the field to the restart on lap 270. After 41 laps of green-flag racing, lap 313 saw Dillon and William Byron make contact, spinning the latter. Bowyer was caught speeding and was sent to the back.

After the restart on lap 319, Elliott took the lead five laps in. Meanwhile, Erik Jones bumped with Kyle Larson, damaging the former and forcing him to pit. He was eventually black flagged for bumper cover flapping.

On lap 371, Matt Tifft hit the turn two wall; on the ensuing stop, Bowyer was penalised again for speeding, this time as he entered pit road. Lap 378 was the next restart as Keselowski retook the lead.

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Chastain’s car stopped in turn two on lap 447 for the next yellow flag, leading to the next restart eight laps later. Keselowski remained the leader as Elliott fought with Busch for second. Although Keselowski grew the margin, Elliott shrank it back and caught up to the leader on the final lap.

However, Elliott could not complete his charge as Keselowski drove off to his 29th Cup win and second at Martinsville. Keselowski’s 446 total laps led set a modern-era NASCAR record for the most at the short track.

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