BRISTOL, Tenn. – Brad Keselowski has a new crew and is fighting for a new contract with Team Penske. His confidence is still intact and he is convinced that he can compete for a championship this year.
Being in the right place at the right time is helpful.
Keselowski inherited his second win in a week when the leaders crashed in front of him with one lap remaining on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. He won the Coca-Cola 600 seven nights ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway when a caution with two laps remaining helped him get to victory lane.
“I felt like I was in Las Vegas,” Keselowski said of the Bristol victory. “I went from having a bad hand to a full house very quickly.”
The victory fell on Keselowski’s lap when Chase Elliott and Joey Logano collided as they ran for the victory. Keselowski was third with one lap and one remaining turn when the opportunity opened. Logano cleared Elliott for the lead with three to go, but Elliott stalked him as he sought his second win in three days.
They made contact on the fourth shift and slid toward the wall when Keselowski passed. It only took one trip around the 0.533-mile concrete bullring to close the victory.
“We were in position and we were able to attack when it counted,” said Keselowski. “Joey and Chase got together there. I don’t know what caused all this, but we were in a position to attack and here we are in victory lane. “
Keselowski, hoping to get an extension with Team Penske, won the 600 when a caution with two to go robbed Elliott of victory. Keselowski inherited the lead when Elliott faced.
Keselowski held on to that victory at Elliott’s expense and is now the first driver to win multiple races in all five Cup events since NASCAR resumed on May 17.
“So many things are happening in the world, I am thankful that I can be a race car driver and do this,” said Keselowski after giving Ford his third victory in five races.
Logano finished 21st and Elliott was 22nd.
Logano looked at Elliott as they both got out of their cars, but Elliott never looked in his direction. After Logano retrieved his mandatory face mask, he approached Elliott for a short conversation.
“It tore me apart,” said Logano. “A simple apology … be a man and say ‘The bad.’ I had to force an apology, which for me is just childish.”
Elliott was at fault after the talk.
“Awww, I’m just going for the win,” said Elliott. “I will certainly take the blame. I just let go and got into it.
Clint Bowyer was second for his best result in a year and a 1-2 finish for Ford and lamented how calm he was after the fifth NASCAR event without fans. The track is built like an arena, known as “The Last Great Coliseum” and can hold around 140,000 spectators.
“It’s starting to bother me,” said Bowyer. “We are seeing other races with fans in the stands and in a place like Bristol, it is the first time that I really feel like ‘Man, it is empty.’ You can feel the atmosphere.”
The silence was more noticeable after Elliott and Logano had their incident.
“This place would have been standing in an eruption,” Bowyer said. “Now it’s like ‘OK, let’s go home.’ I’m ready for the fans.”
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was third in a Chevrolet and once again proved he is close to breaking his 104-race losing streak. Johnson led laps in NASCAR’s first race after a 10-week close of the coronavirus pandemic and was second at Coca-Cola 600 before his final was disqualified for failing inspection.
Kyle Busch and Erik Jones completed the top five on a pair of Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin, another JGR driver, seemed ready for victory until an overturned car obstructed the track, Hamlin was too high to make the pass, and Logano and Elliott passed.
Hamlin then was wrecked by the 17th caution of the race. He established a final sequence of five laps.
“Both knocks and knocks,” said Keselowski. “We have all been locked up in our houses too long. Everyone is angry with everyone.”
Ryan Blaney had a strong early car and led 60 laps, but crashed while chasing teammate Keselowski for the lead in the second leg. Blaney seemed to be too high on the track, he swung against the wall and was then hit by Ty Dillon.
Blaney went to Bristol starting third in a row, but finished last.
“I didn’t think I was that high and all of a sudden I hit a slippery spot,” Blaney said. “I thought we were going to be fine and then we were destroyed about six seconds later. That’s just Bristol. “
It was another difficult race for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who bounced back from three poor results with a fourth place Thursday night in Charlotte. He was running decently near the end of the stage until Johnson’s contact caused a car accident and left four drivers, including Stenhouse, out of the race.
“We just crashed,” said Stenhouse, who crashed on the first lap of NASCAR’s first race. “It was a bummer. I felt that we had a good opportunity to compete with them for victory. ”