RIDGEWAY, Va. — In a Sunday afternoon battle of the titans, Brad Keselowski outlasted a day full of carnage, a stretch run to the finish and a persistent challenge from Kyle Busch to notch his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season at Martinsville Speedway.
After 16 cautions that plagued the race, a reversal of the norm broke out as the final 64 laps of the STP 500 ran uninterrupted and allowed Busch and Keselowski to run nose-to-tail for much of the closing stages.
Keselowski led the field to green for what was ultimately the final restart of the day, but Busch quickly latched onto the back bumper of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford and laid in wait before moving to the top spot in turn two with 47 laps left.
But as he battled tires that “felt like they were flat,” Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota began to slip and slide as he tried desperately to defend the lead and hold Keselowski at bay.
Finally, with 43 to go, Keselowski made the winning move by diving inside of Busch entering turn one, using a forceful effort to take the lead and never looking back from there.
The 2012 Cup champion then drove away by 1.806 seconds to record his 23rd career victory and first at Martinsville, taking the checkered flag in team owner Roger Penske’s 1000th Cup race.
“This is awesome! We’ve ran so good here in the past, but something always happens and we haven’t been able to bring it home,” Keselowski said. “Martinsville is just one of those champion’s tracks. The guys that run well everywhere also run good here. It’s really an honor to get to compete here and to share in the history of this track … it’s 70 years old, a lot of legends have won here and it feels great to be able to join them and bring home a clock.”
“A lot of people don’t know this but these clocks are built in my hometown of Rochester Hills, Michigan. It’s cool to get one of them from back home. I have one as a Truck owner but didn’t have one as a driver until today. … Team Penske has put so much effort into these Martinsville cars the last three or four years, because we knew it was one of our weakest tracks and finally we got the result that they deserve. It’s just an amazing day!”
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