Brad Keselowski pulled off a victory in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, after starting in the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang before the race.
Keselowski opted to stay on track, when a caution came out for a spinning William Byron with just two laps left. As a result, Keselowski inherited the lead and he was able to hang onto it over a green-white-checkered finish over Jimmie Johnson.
After checking off a bucket list victory, there was just one thing on Keselowski’s mind — a fallen soldier.
“This means a lot to me, but can’t help but think of the Reep family, and Donovan and I hope they’re watching.” Keselowski said of SSGT Donovan Reep, who’s name was displayed on his windshield.
For Keselowski, this triumph in one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events comes after years of not having circumstances fall the right way in the 600-mile event.
“Man, I feel like I have thrown this race away a handful of times,” Keselowski recalled of his past Coca-Cola 600 performances. “I thought we were going to lose it today. I know, we’ve lost it the way that Chase [Elliott] lost it today, and that really stinks. Today, we finally won it that way.”
This marks Keselowski’s 31st-career NASCAR Cup Series win.
Chase Elliott looked to have the race win in hand, which would have been a wild story as Elliott was crashed by Kyle Busch in the closing laps of Wednesday’s race at Darlington Raceway while he was running second.
On Sunday, at Charlotte Elliott was leading when the caution came out with two laps left. However, Elliott came to pit road for tires during this caution, while a lot of other cars stayed on track. This mired him deep in the pack.
Elliott sliced and diced his way through the field, but could only make it up to third by the time the checkered flag was in the air.
“Just trying to make the best decision you can, and those guys are going to do the opposite of whatever we do,” Elliott said after gaining his composure. “That’s just part of it. You make decisions and you live with them.”
Ryan Blaney finish fourth and Kyle Busch came home in fifth.
Kevin Harvick was sixth and he was followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch.
A pair of rookies — Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell — rounded out the top-10 finishers in Sunday’s crown jewel event.
Alex Bowman, who had dominated the event, before it looked like Elliott was the driver to beat, wound up 20th as he was roughed up heavily on the final restart of the race.
Bowman, who won Stages 1 and 2, and led a race-high 164-laps was left with a disappointing finish.
But as disappointing as the finish was for Bowman, it doesn’t rival the disappointment that his teammate Elliott must be feeling.
Post-Race Stat Pack:
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.