Monday, September 03, 2018 1:00 am
Keselowski wins thanks to fast pit stop
Southern 500 victory first of year for Penske driver
PETE IACOBELLI | Associated Press
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Brad Keselowski beat leader Kyle Larson out of the pits with 22 laps to go, then pulled away on a restart to win the Southern 500 on Sunday night and sweep the weekend at Darlington Raceway.
Keselowski took the Xfinity race Saturday when leaders Ross Chastain and Kevin Harvick wrecked late. This time, Keselowski and his crew took advantage on the final caution to move in front with a fast pit stop.
Keselowski then did the rest as he opened a 11/2-second lead down the stretch.
It was Keselowski's first win of the season – the 25th of his career – and the first time a Team Penske driver has won at Darlington since Bobby Allison in the 1985 Southern 500.
“Got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew,” Keselowski said. “Running second that last stop and they nailed it.”
Joey Logano, Keselowski's Penske teammate, finished second, and Larson was third.
Larson won the first two stages and led 284 of the 367 laps. Yet, he leaves disappointed with his seventh top-three finish of the season.
Kevin Harvick was fourth and Chase Elliott fifth.
The Busch brothers were next – Kurt in sixth, points leader Kyle in seventh – with Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 10.
Harvick leads the series with seven victories this season and stayed hot at Darlington despite starting 22nd. It was the 21st time in 25 races he's wound up in the top 10.
Jimmie Johnson struggled throughout the weekend at Darlington Raceway. The seven-time champion, does not have a win this season and, while he's in the playoffs on points at the moment, may have work to do at the final regular season race at Indianapolis next week to reach the postseason. “I don't want to be in this position,” Johnson said.