One month ago, Brad Keselowski drove to victory in Atlanta despite being caught in the nauseating grip of the flu. On Sunday it was the rest of the drivers in the field who were left feeling queasy as Keselowski was absolutely dominating in winning the STP 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
How dominating was the Michigan native on Sunday? He led 446 of 500 laps, including the final 127, and collected victories in all three stages.
The victory in the first short track race of the season was the second of the season for Keselowski and the third for Team Penske.
It was the 29th victory of Keselowski’s Cup career and his second at NASCAR’s shortest and oldest track.
Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports, who had not led a single lap in 2019, led 49 on Sunday and finished second. The margin of victory was .59 seconds.
“There was a little advantage to being out front,” said Elliott, who challenged for the lead over the final laps but came up just short.
Finishing third was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who was attempting to win his third straight Cup race.
Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney finished fourth while Denny Hamlin of JGR rounded out the top five.
Joey Logano, whose victory at Martinsville last October set up his Cup championship run, started from the pole and led five laps before he was bumped out of the lead by Team Penske teammate Keselowski. Once out front, Keselowski stayed out front as he led the next 319 laps.
Elliott became just the third driver to lead the race when he squeezed past Keselowski on the low side with 176 laps to go.
Keselowski re-captured the lead during yellow flag pit stops and never trailed again.
While Busch’s two-race Cup winning streak came to an end, he was able to leave Martinsville with his 201st win across NASCAR’s top three series as he won Saturday’s Truck Series race.
The winner of last year’s race, Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing, twice was penalized for speeding on pit road but still wound up finishing seventh.
—Field Level Media