Keselowski Dominates Martinsville for 2nd Win of the Season

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Martinsville Speedway, March 24, 2019

Ford Performance continues to show their muscle, big track or small. Joey Logano(22) won the pole for today’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The Mustangs of Aric Almirola(10), Brad Keselowski(2), and Kevin Harvick(4) qualified 2nd through 4th.

After finishing 2nd through 5th last week at Auto Club Speedway, Ford fans expectations are high for today’s 1st short track race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Stage lengths are 130/130/240 around the paperclip-shaped speedway. But, manufacturer cooperation is not as big a factor on the half-mile track as it is on speedway’s where drafting matters.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

The Bump and Run

Of course, short track racing increases the amount of contact between race cars. Logano performed the perfect bump and run last fall to move Martin Truex Jr.(78) out of the way. Logano qualified for the Championship 4 and ultimately won the Championship as a result of his Martinsville victory. Can something similar happen today? You bet! Every lap someone is nudging a competitor to improve their position. Will it happen on the last lap? Hope so.

Stage 1

It did not take long for the on-track action to heat up. Keselowski bumped teammate Logano on Lap 7 and drove underneath him to take the lead away from the pole sitter. Logano dropped a few more positions with handling issues. but was able to remain in the top 10 at the end of the Stage. Keselowski drove off to the Stage 1 win, his first Stage win of the year.

Keselowski Leads: Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
2 Brad Keselowski* 10
9 Chase Elliott 9
10 Aric Almirola* 8
11 Denny Hamlin 7
12 Ryan Blaney* 6
14 Clint Bowyer* 5
22 Joey Logano* 4
19 Martin Truex Jr. 3
18 Kyle Busch 2
3 Austin Dillon 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

Keselowski, 1st out of the pits maintained the lead when the green flag dropped on the start of Stage 2. He was followed by Chase Elliott(9), Denny Hamlin(11), Ryan Blaney(12), and Clint  Bowyer(14). Almirola fell out of the top 5 with a pit stop just a tick slower than the leaders.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Ross Chastain(15) lost a rear axle and dumped axle grease on the track. Almost causing Elliott and Kyle Larson(42) to wreck when they got their right side tires into the fluid. A brief caution waved on Lap 145 to clean the track.

Back under green and Keselowski shows his dominance by pulling away and leading every lap in Stage 2.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
2 Brad Keselowski* 10
12 Ryan Blaney* 9
11 Denny Hamlin 8
9 Chase Elliott 7
19 Martin Truex Jr. 6
10 Aric Almirola* 5
4 Kevin Harvick* 4
14 Clint Bowyer* 3
41 Daniel Suarez* 2
22 Joey Logano* 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

With Blue Oval Ponies holding 7 of the top 10 spots the guys from Dearborn are dancing in the streets. Well that, and spring has come to Michigan.

The Final Stage

Denny Hamlin had an uncontrolled tire during his Stage ending pit stop and dropped from the top 5 to the end of the lead lap after the penalty was assessed. Keselowski again led the field off pit road, followed by Elliott, Bowyer, Truex, and Almirola.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Ty Dillon(13) and William Byron(24) got together coming out of turn 4, bringing out the caution on Lap 311. During pit stops, Bowyer was too fast entering pit road and will restart the race in 21st position. Keselowski and his crew are again perfect. Exiting pit road first and maintaining the lead.

Lead Change

With 176 laps to go someone other than a Team Penske driver led a lap. Chase Elliott dove underneath Keselowski for the top spot. It was the first time this year NASCAR’s most popular driver led a lap. Keselowski had led 319 laps before being passed.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images

Matt Tifft(36) tapped the wall in Turn 2 bringing out the caution on Lap 371. After pit stops Keselowski resumed the lead beating Elliott out of the pits. Kyle Busch(18), Blaney, and Harvick round out the top 5 for the restart with 120 laps to go. A slight chassis adjustment on his pit stop seemed to bring Keselowski’s car back to form. He drove away from Elliott when the race went back to green.

The Finish

Keselowski consistently built his lead until Ross Chastain again brought out the caution with 55 laps to go after another issue with his car stalled it on track. The race off pit road was won by Keselowski, followed by Kyle Busch with Elliott 3rd. Keselowski drove off with the lead while Elliott passed Busch for 2nd.

With 25 laps to go the top trio were virtually bumper to bumper. But, as they hit lapped traffic Keselowski pulled away. Leading 446 laps to win his 2nd grandfather clock as the victor at Martinsville Speedway.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Next week its the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 from Texas Motor Speedway.

 

 

 

Results of the STP 500

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 2 Brad Keselowski 500
2 9 Chase Elliott 0.594 500
3 18 Kyle Busch 1.335 500
4 12 Ryan Blaney 2.916 500
5 11 Denny Hamlin 3.604 500
6 4 Kevin Harvick 4.017 500
7 14 Clint Bowyer 5.355 500
8 19 Martin Truex Jr. 5.787 500
9 10 Aric Almirola 6.146 500
10 41 Daniel Suarez 6.381 500
11 3 Austin Dillon 7.051 500
12 1 Kurt Busch 7.549 500
13 13 Ty Dillon 8.507 500
14 88 Alex Bowman 9.996 500
15 21 Paul Menard 10.717 500
16 47 Ryan Preece 11.505 500
17 43 Bubba Wallace 11.848 500
18 42 Kyle Larson 12.151 500
19 22 Joey Logano 13.200 500
20 95 Matt DiBenedetto 13.712 500
21 37 Chris Buescher -1 499
22 24 William Byron -1 499
23 6 Ryan Newman -1 499
24 48 Jimmie Johnson -2 498
25 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -2 498
26 38 David Ragan -4 496
27 8 Daniel Hemric -4 496
28 0 Landon Cassill -6 494
29 36 Matt Tifft -6 494
30 20 Erik Jones -9 491
31 34 Michael McDowell -9 491
32 77 DJ Kennington -11 489
33 32 Corey LaJoie -11 489
34 15 Ross Chastain -134 365
35 52 Jeb Burton -336 163
36 51 Cody Ware -444 55

Points/Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Wins
1 Kyle Busch 237 2
2 Brad Keselowski* 176 2
3 Joey Logano* 222 1
4 Denny Hamlin 205 1
5 Kevin Harvick* 213 0
6 Aric Almirola* 174 0
7 Martin Truex Jr. 169 0
8 Kyle Larson 163 0
9 Kurt Busch 160 0
10 Ryan Blaney* 155 0
11 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 146 0
12 Chase Elliott 135 0
13 Erik Jones 133 0
14 Jimmie Johnson 121 0
15 Clint Bowyer* 119 0
16 Alex Bowman 110 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Ryan Newman 107 0
18 Daniel Suarez* 105 0
19 William Byron 104 0
20 Austin Dillon 103 0

*Ford Mustang Drivers