Brad Keselowski joins Kevin Harvick locked in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a dominant victory at Richmond.
Keselowski, led 192 of 400 laps, including the final 48 on his way to the win in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
Keselowski and most of the field utilized a two-stop pit strategy during the final stage, went green the entire way. He ended up taking the checkered flag nearly 2.6 second ahead of Martin Truex Jr.
The win is Keselowski’s fourth of the 2020 season and 34th of his career. His No. 2 Penske team ran the same chassis as his victory at New Hampshire last month.
“It was a great race for us and the No. 2 team. This is, I think my car from Loudon, and I wanted to do a really cool burnout with it, but I want this car for Phoenix. It’s 2-for-2 and I’m real pumped,” Keselowski said. “I don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ve got to get there.
“The next round is going to be really difficult, but, still, I’m really pumped about this performance and the way we run at short tracks. I felt like coming in here that we would run well, but this thing was awesome.”
Asked what kind of statement his win could say for his championship hopes, Keselowski said, “We’ve got to get there. The last two years I haven’t made it all the way, so we’ve got to get all the way there, but if we can get to Phoenix, we’re going to be really good.”
Joey Logano finished third, Austin Dillon fourth and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five.
Completing the top-10 were Kyle Busch, Harvick, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all lead-laps elected to pit with Keselowski the first off pit road.
On the restart on Lap 245, Keselowski was followed by Truex and Logano.
With 125 laps remaining in the race, Keselowski’s lead over Logano had expanded to 1.5-seconds with Truex third and Elliott fourth.
On Lap 293, numerous drivers, including leader Keselowski, began a round of green-flag stops, utilizing a two-stop strategy to complete the final stage.
Logano, among the first to make their green-flag stop, cycled around to the lead on Lap 308 thanks to the fresh tires.
Two teams – Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth – were attempting to run the final stage by making just one stop and had yet to pit.
Keselowski got back around Logano on Lap 317 to retake the lead.
On Lap 336, Austin Dillon was set to begin his final green-flag pit stop but missed the entrance to pit road and had to come around a second time to make his stop.
Many more of the lead-lap cars followed down pit road on Lap 342.
With 50 to go, Kurt Busch led the way but was a one-stop strategy with older tires. He was followed by Austin Dillon and Keselowski.
Three laps later, Keselowski got around Austin Dillon to reclaim the lead as Kurt Busch dropped to fifth.
With 25 laps to go, Keselowski remained out front with a more than 2-second lead over Truex with Logano in third.
Keselowski opened up a 2.4-second lead over Truex with 10 laps to go.
Keselowski passed Austin Dillon with 17 laps to go and held on for the Stage 2 victory, his seventh of the 2020 season.
Truex finished third, Logano fourth and Elliott completed the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all lead-lap cars pit with Hamlin the first off pit road. However, both Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon were penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
That left Logano leading the way when the race returned to green on Lap 90 followed by Keselowski.
With 130 laps remaining in the second stage, Austin Dillon had worked his way back to 20th while Hamlin had improved to 24th.
On Lap 122, Keselowski went to the inside of Logano to grab the lead for the first time.
With 100 laps to go in the second stage, Keselowski had opened up a 1.2-second over Logano while Truex remained in third.
On Lap 140, Austin Dillon had worked his way back into the top-10 as several teams including Harvick and Matt DiBenedetto elected to make green-flag stop for fresh tires and fuel.
Once everyone had made a stop, Harvick cycled into the lead on Lap 167 followed by Austin Dillon and Almirola.
On Lap 182, Austin Dillon powered back around Harvick to reclaim the lead as Keselowski moved back up to third.
With 50 laps remaining in the second stage, Harvick decided to make another green-flag stop but was tagged with a commitment line violation as he entered pit road. He had to come back down pit road to serve a pass-through penalty.
On Lap 190, Jimmie Johnson was penalized for speeding on pit road during his green-flag stop and had to serve a pass-through penalty.
With 25 laps to go in the second stage, Austin Dillon continued to lead away followed by Keselowski, Logano, Truex and Kyle Busch.
On Lap 218, Keselowski used some lapped traffic to help navigate around Austin Dillon to move back into the top spot. Truex had moved back into third.
With five laps remaining, Keselowski maintained a small but steady lead over Austin Dillon as Truex remained third.
Hamlin held off a stiff challenge from Austin Dillon to take the Stage 1 victory, his eighth stage win of the 2020 season.
Logano was third, Keselowski fourth and Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Harvick, who started on the pole, took command of the race early, building a 1.2 -second lead over Logano after 10 laps.
On Lap 21, Austin Dillon got around Harvick to take the lead for the first time in the race.
NASCAR displayed a competition caution on Lap 31 to allow teams to check tire wear. All the lead-lap cars pit with Austin Dillon the first off pit road. Ryan Blaney had to pit a second time to tighten loose lug nuts.
The race returned to green on Lap 38 with Austin Dillon leading the way followed by Hamlin.
Hamlin powered around Austin Dillon on Lap 40 to take the lead for the first time in the race.
With 25 laps remaining in the first stage, Hamlin had built a 1.2-second lead over Austin Dillon with Logano in third.
With 10 laps to go in the stage, Austin Dillon was beginning to close back in on leader Hamlin with Logano still in third.
Kyle Busch had to start the race from the rear of the field after his No. 18 Toyota failed pre-race inspection twice. Christopher Bell also started from the rear due to unapproved adjustments to his No. 95 Toyota.
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