Brad Keselowski Delivers Fords First Win of 2024 at Darlington

Brad Keselowski ends a 110-race winless streak, while giving the Mustang Dark Horse its first NASCAR Cup Series win.

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Darlington Raceway, Darlington, SC — May 12, 2023

Happy Mother’s Day! And Happy Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400. The paint schemes for the weekend have been enjoyable for reminiscing about the sport’s history.

The winning retro look, in my opinion, was Kyle Larson’s car decked out in the old Kellogs Corn Flakes colors from Terry Labonte’s car in the 1990s.

Kyle Larson channels Terry Labonte’s 1990s Kellogg’s Corn Flakes paint scheme. / Lasco Press Photo

Labonte joined Larson for the pre-race tour around the track, greeting the fans.

Kyle Larson and Terry Labonte pre-race / Lasco Press Photo

The historic 1.366-mile egg-shaped paved oval, known as Darlington Raceway, has hosted 125 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to 1950. The raceway was originally built as a 1.25-mile paved superspeedway in 1949-1950 and hosted the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt on September 4, 1950. A total of 75 cars competed in the inaugural event, and Curtis Turner won the pole at 82.034 mph. The race was won by Johnny Mantz (Average Speed: 75.250 mph), and it took 6 hours, 38 minutes, and 40 seconds to complete.

This weekend will be the 11th time in NASCAR Cup Series history the series has competed on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day Race Winners Date Track Holiday
William Byron Sunday, May 14, 2023 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Joey Logano Sunday, May 8, 2022 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Martin Truex Jr. Sunday, May 9, 2021 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Jeff Gordon Sunday, May 13, 2007 Darlington Raceway Mother’s Day
Cale Yarborough Sunday, May 14, 1978 Talladega Superspeedway Mother’s Day
Benny Parsons Sunday, May 9, 1971 South Boston Speedway Mother’s Day
Bob Welborn Sunday, May 11, 1958 Greensboro Fairgrounds Mother’s Day
Buck Baker Sunday, May 13, 1956 Orange Speedway Mother’s Day
Tim Flock Sunday, May 8, 1955 Arizona State Fairgrounds Mother’s Day
Buck Baker Sunday, May 9, 1954 Wilson Speedway Mother’s Day

 

Over the years, Darlington has produced 54 different Cup winners. This weekend, eight of the 54 former winners are entered in Sunday’s Goodyear 400, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin with four victories (2010, 2017, 2020, 2021).

Active Darlington Race Winners Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin 4 2021, 2020, 2017, 2010
Erik Jones 2 2022, 2019
Martin Truex Jr 2 2021, 2016
William Byron 1 2023
Kyle Larson 1 2023
Joey Logano 1 2022
Brad Keselowski 1 2018
Kyle Busch 1 2008

 

NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in victories at Darlington Raceway with 10 wins (1968, ’70, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’76 sweep, ’77, ’79, 80), followed by Dale Earnhardt with nine and Jeff Gordon with seven.

Today’s Race

Darlington’s 1.366-mile length contains an interesting layout; the egg-shaped oval presents a handling challenge as the corners are not symmetrical. It will take 293 laps to complete the 400.2-mile distance. Stages are set for 90/95/108 laps.

Tyler Reddick sits on the pole with the Ford Mustang Dark Horse of Brad Keselowski sitting next to him in the front row. William Byron is the defending champion of the race. He starts in fifth today.

Brad Keselowski / Lasco Press Photo

Michigan’s Erik Jones returns to his seat in the iconic #43 today after setting out the last two races recovering from his back injury sustained at Talladega.

Stage One

Tyler Reddick(45) drove off from the pole position into the lead without a challenge at the drop of the green flag. Brad Keselowski(6) pulled up behind the #45 car and was content to follow and log laps during the opening Stage of the race. Ty Gibbs(54), Kyle Larson(5), and Chris Buescher(17) rounded out the top five.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 38, as tire wear is going to be a factor today. Bubba Wallace(23), Ryan Blaney(12), Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47), and Ty Dillon(3) opted to stay out and log laps closer to the halfway point of the Stage.

When all pit stops had cycled through, Ty Gibbs was the new leader. William Byron(24), Larson, Keselowski, and Reddick shuffled positions at the top of the pylon.

With 12 laps to go in the Stage, some drivers were struggling with the handling as tires were going away. Larson passed Gibbs for the lead. Keselowski and Reddick moved up to challenge for the second spot, and Martin Truex Jr.(19) made his first appearance in the top five.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 5 Kyle Larson 10
2 54 Ty Gibbs 9
3 6 Brad Keselowski* 8
4 45 Tyler Reddick 7
5 19 Martin Truex Jr. 6
6 38 Todd Gilliland* 5
7 17 Chris Buescher* 4
8 12 Ryan Blaney* 3
9 24 William Byron 2
10 23 Bubba Wallace 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Stage Two

Tyler Reddick, with the number 1 pit stall, courtesy of winning the pole, was first off pit road, just nosing out Keselowski. Gibbs, Larson, and Truex followed. Ryan Blaney, who ran long on the first cycle of pit stops, improved his track position significantly. He restarts sixth.

Reddick got another good jump on the start. Gibbs outran Keselowski to take second. Truex and Larson followed.

 

John Hunter Nemechek(42) lost a right front tire and spun down the front stretch on lap 120. Just in time to provide teams a chance to change tires under caution. Nemechek had to be towed to his pit stall after blowing another tire trying to limp back to the pit road. He actually blocked the entrance to the pits, forcing NASCAR to delay the opening of the pits for cars to enter.

Lining up for the restart, Reddick and Keselowski sat in row one, Gibbs and Truex in row two, Blaney and Byron behind them. Truex restarted a little slow, Blaney went to his high side, and Byron went low. Blaney and Truex collided, sending Blaney into the wall with an impact hard enough to do some damage to the #12 car.

The caution waved again, and both drivers came to the pit road for their crews to attend to the damage from the incident. Truex was able to stay on the lead lap, and Blaney was forced to retire to the garage.

Back to racing and Reddick continues to show his rear spoiler to the field. Gibbs is able to hang within a couple of seconds while the interval between the leader and the rest of the field continues to grow.

Zane Smith(71) created the next timely caution as he spun down the front stretch on lap 162. This will allow teams to prep for the final 20-lap sprint to the finish. Reddick and Keselowski lead the pack back to green. Joey Logano(22) joins the lead group, lining up next to Ty Gibbs in row two.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 45 Tyler Reddick 10
2 6 Brad Keselowski* 9
3 54 Ty Gibbs 8
4 22 Joey Logano* 7
5 5 Kyle Larson 6
6 24 William Byron 5
7 17 Chris Buescher* 4
8 11 Denny Hamlin 3
9 23 Bubba Wallace 2
10 1 Ross Chastain 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

The Final Stage

Just like every other green flag today, Tyler Reddick leads the pack into turn one and comes out of turn two clearly in the lead. Keselowski had to struggle a little to maintain the second position. He outran Larson down the backstretch to hold the second spot.

Larson, Byron, and Logano are still in the mix. With Denny Hamlin lurking just outside the top five in the sixth position.

Denny Hamlin / Lasco Press Photo

With 67 laps to go, Keselowski passed Reddick for the lead and ended the run of 131 laps led in a row by the #45 car. The leaders appear to be on a strategy of making just one stop in the final Stage. Larson was the first to pit with 57 laps to go. Everyone else followed in the next few laps.

Keselowski returned to the lead when pit stops cycled through. Reddick held second, but Gibbs and Buescher moved ahead of Larson in the lead running order.

Kyle Larson shredded the left rear tire after tapping the wall a couple of times. The caution at lap 253 allowed everyone to pit and put on new tires for the sprint to the finish.

Once again, Tyler Reddick came out ahead of Brad Keselowski. How the final laps play out may be determined by the restart with 33 laps to go.

Reddick and Keselowski drove side-by-side for four laps. As they banged doors down the front stretch, Chris Buescher dove low and passed both cars for the lead.

Chris Buescher / Lasco Press Photo

With 20 laps to go, Buescher held a half-second lead over Reddick. Keselowski was another half-second back in the third spot.

With 10 laps to go, Buescher got loose, Reddick pounced, and they were door-to-door across the start/finish line. They made contact, and Buescher bounced off the wall. Keselowski shot to the lead. Both Reddick and Buescher came to pit road. Reddick compounded his problem by pitting outside of his box and was penalized as a result.

Keselowski taking the checkered flag ended a 110-race winless streak and was the first for the Ford Mustang Dark Horse this season.

For the second week in a row, Chris Buescher had one stolen from him. Frustration boiled over, and Buescher confronted Reddick on pit road after the race.

Reddick apologized for the contact, but that was little consultation for the heartbreak in back-to-back races. Buescher finished 30th, Reddick 32nd. Reddick led 175 of the 293 laps.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 Denny Hamlin 447 In Win(3)
2 William Byron 400 In Win(3)
3 Kyle Larson 486 In Win(2)
4 Chase Elliott 437 In Win(1)
5 Tyler Reddick 396 In Win(1)
6 Brad Keselowski* 344 In Win(1)
7 Christopher Bell 320 In Win(1)
8 Daniel Suarez 263 In Win(1)
9 Martin Truex Jr. 456 +140
10 Ty Gibbs 390 +74
11 Ryan Blaney* 371 +55
12 Alex Bowman 365 +49
13 Ross Chastain 358 +42
14 Chris Buescher* 331 +15
15 Kyle Busch 324 +8
16 Chase Briscoe* 322 +6
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Bubba Wallace 316 -6
18 Joey Logano* 292 -30
19 Noah Gragson 239 -83
20 Austin Cindric* 232 -90
21 Josh Berry* 230 -92
22 Todd Gilliland* 217 -105
23 Michael McDowell* 212 -110
24 John Hunter Nemechek 211 -111
25 Carson Hocevar 211 -111

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Results of the Goodyear 400 from Darlington Raceway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 6 Brad Keselowski 293
2 54 Ty Gibbs 1.214 293
3 4 Josh Berry 1.477 293
4 11 Denny Hamlin 3.059 293
5 14 Chase Briscoe 4.245 293
6 24 William Byron 6.137 293
7 23 Bubba Wallace 8.554 293
8 48 Alex Bowman 9.479 293
9 51 Justin Haley 10.682 293
10 34 Michael McDowell 11.702 293
11 1 Ross Chastain 15.004 293
12 9 Chase Elliott 15.322 293
13 20 Christopher Bell 15.859 293
14 10 Noah Gragson 16.242 293
15 38 Todd Gilliland 16.728 293
16 7 Corey LaJoie 17.248 293
17 41 Ryan Preece 17.668 293
18 15 Kaz Grala 17.946 293
19 43 Erik Jones 20.084 293
20 2 Austin Cindric 20.419 293
21 22 Joey Logano 20.906 293
22 21 Harrison Burton 21.190 293
23 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 21.351 293
24 99 Daniel Suarez 22.463 293
25 19 Martin Truex Jr. 22.675 293
26 77 Carson Hocevar 24.434 293
27 8 Kyle Busch 24.552 293
28 3 Austin Dillon 28.445 293
29 16 Derek Kraus -1 292
30 17 Chris Buescher -2 291
31 42 John Hunter Nemechek -2 291
32 45 Tyler Reddick -2 291
33 31 Daniel Hemric -3 290
34 5 Kyle Larson -41 252
35 71 Zane Smith -132 161
36 12 Ryan Blaney -164 129