Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Brad Keselowski Dashes to Darlington Win

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski celebrates a hard fought Goodyear 400 win at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Brad Keseslowski no longer has to answer the question on when he will win again after Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.

For the first time since Apr. 25, 2021, Keselowski was a NASCAR Cup Series race winner again. The Rochester Hills, Michigan, native snapped a 110-race winless streak, earning his 35th Cup race win and first since purchased a stake with RFK Racing.

Prior to the 293-lap race, Keselowski had raw pace throughout the weekend. Although he was not the fastest driver in Saturday’s practice session, only mustering the 22nd fastest time and 18th quickest in a 10-lap consecutive average, he had a race winner for the track “Too Tough to Tame.”

Qualifying in the second position, the 40-year-old racing veteran placed third in Stage 1. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson, the 2023 Cook Out Southern 500 winner, charged from his sixth starting spot to win Stage 1 over Ty Gibbs and Keselowski.

Once Stage 2 was underway, mayhem ensued when Ryan Blaney was in a compromising position in Turn 2 on Lap 130, resulting in a multi-car accident that collected his No. 12 Ford Mustang Dark Horse along with Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Buescher, the runner-up to Larson in the photo finish battle at Kansas.

While Truex and Buescher pressed on, Blaney’s afternoon was cut short in frustrating fashion.

Toward the front of the field, Tyler Reddick, the polesitter, scored a dominant Stage 2 win over Keselowski and Gibbs while Joey Logano and Larson rounded out the top five.

As Stage 3 kicked off with Reddick back in the lead, Keselowski and Buescher became the principal factors. Larson, attempting to win his second straight race at Darlington and third of the 2024 season, spun and crashed into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 255, effectively ending his afternoon.

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski and Tyler Reddick raced like it was the last lap on Lap 264 in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

Larson’s accident set up the final 34 lap duel between Reddick, Keselowski and Buescher. The trio were relentless and aggressive, trading paint as if it was the last lap.

On Lap 264, Buescher took the lead with a daring, three-wide inside pass of Keselowski and Buescher. For the next 21 laps, it appeared as if Buescher would break through to Darlington’s Victory Lane.

Then, on Lap 285, Buescher and Reddick tangled in Turns 3 and 4, allowing Keselowski back into the lead. The contact between Buescher and Reddick resulted in cut tires for both drivers, eliminating the duo from contention.

In the final nine laps, Keselowski was smart, smooth and restraint, taking the checkered flag, besting Gibbs by 1.214 seconds.

Following the customary burnout, complete with the American flag, Keselowski soaked in his first win since the 2021 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“What a heck of a day,” Keselowski said. “It’s Darlington, so whether it’s your first win, your last win, this is a really special track. The history of NASCAR, it’s as tough as it gets, and that battle at the end with my teammate Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all out on the line, it was freaking awesome.

“I thought it couldn’t get much better than Kansas. It did today. That was awesome. I’m so glad you guys got to see that. That was incredible. Thanks for being here.”

Even when Keselowski was passed by Buescher and Reddick on Lap 264, the 2012 Cup champion remained optimistic with his chances.

“I mean, it wasn’t good, but I knew that I’d have another shot at it,” Keselowski explained. “My car was really good on the long runs. When Tyler got underneath Chris, I knew I had another shot at it when they made contact. I couldn’t get by, and I’m like, ugh.

“Then they must have got a flat tire, I don’t know what happened, and we caught a break. We’ve caught enough bad breaks over the last year or two, it’s nice to catch a good one.”

Despite the long awaited victory, Keselowski pulled for Buescher, his Prosper, Texas, teammate, to capture the win for RFK Racing.

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski duked it out with Tyler Reddick and Ty Gibbs in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Kyle Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“I thought Chris was gonna win it there when he got by me,” Keselowski admitted. “I was like, ‘Dog gone it. Here’s another one that Chris got,’ but he did a hell of a job there. It’s good for us as a company, good for us as a team. It locks us into the playoffs. Just and incredible day for us here in Darlington.”

Gibbs, the sophomore sensation, raced with guile and guts at the 1.366-mile speedway, capturing a runner-up. Still, he lamented on his areas of opportunities.

“I feel like I need to get better at passing and driving in dirty air,” Gibbs said. “That is where I feel like I lacked today. My car was really great. Still kind of fighting some numbers on balance, but I feel like we were really, really good.”

Josh Berry captured a much needed podium finish for his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team. The rookie racer praised his team on their execution and preparation with his car.

“It was just a really good day,” Berry said. “We had a really good car yesterday in practice, but unfortunately didn’t qualify like we should have. There’s a lot to take from that, but, overall, the car was really strong.

“We feel like we’re capable of days like this. We just have to keep chipping away at it, keep learning, keep getting better week in and week out. I have a great group around me and this is a finish they deserve for sure.”

Given all the struggles facing RFK Racing and the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse introduced this year, Keselowski gave plenty to talk about for Ford fans. Locking a spot in this year’s Playoffs, it was the ideal day for a driver needing an ideal performance.

Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski captured the first Ford Mustang Dark Horse’s win in Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

“It hasn’t been the month or two that the Ford guys have wanted, but it’s over now and they can’t hear about it now,” Keselowski shared. “Good for Ford. Good for everybody on this race team. We had a pretty fast car today.

“We just held them honest all day and ran up front and had great pit stops, good strategy and then just a dogfight at the end on the restarts. It had to be thrilling. I feel like I could hear the fans cheering in the car, but what a race. If you missed it, I’m sorry you missed a golden race. It was a hell of a day.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Results
  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Tyler Reddick
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Todd Gilliland
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. William Byron
  10. Bubba Wallace
Stage 2 Top 10 Results
  1. Tyler Reddick
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Ty Gibbs
  4. Joey Logano
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. William Byron
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Bubba Wallace
  10. Ross Chastain
Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway Race Results
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 2 6 Brad Keselowski Castrol Ford Running
2 4 54 Ty Gibbs He Gets Us Toyota Running
3 33 4 Josh Berry (R) Harrison’s Ford Running
4 7 11 Denny Hamlin Yahoo! Toyota Running
5 13 14 Chase Briscoe Mahindra Tractors Ford Running
6 5 24 William Byron Axalta Throwback Chevrolet Running
7 8 23 Bubba Wallace McDonald’s Toyota Running
8 18 48 Alex Bowman Ally Throwback Chevrolet Running
9 28 51 Justin Haley NC Fraternal Order of Police Ford Running
10 16 34 Michael McDowell Long John Silver’s Ford Running
11 9 1 Ross Chastain Busch Light Throwback Chevrolet Running
12 31 9 Chase Elliott UniFirst Throwback Chevrolet Running
13 12 20 Christopher Bell DEWALT 100 Years Toyota Running
14 36 10 Noah Gragson Overstock.com Ford Running
15 15 38 Todd Gilliland gener8tor Ford Running
16 24 7 Corey LaJoie Razzle Dazzle Chevrolet Running
17 26 41 Ryan Preece United Rentals Ford Running
18 34 15 Kaz Grala (R) N29 Capital Partners Ford Running
19 30 43 Erik Jones AdventHealth Toyota Running
20 25 2 Austin Cindric Freightliner Ford Running
21 14 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford Running
22 35 21 Harrison Burton DEX Imaging Ford Running
23 20 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Oscar Mayer/Artesano Bread Chevrolet Running
24 19 99 Daniel Suárez Quaker State Chevrolet Running
25 10 19 Martin Truex Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Running
26 21 77 Carson Hocevar Premier Security/NLEOMF.org Chevrolet Running
27 11 8 Kyle Busch zone Chevrolet Running
28 23 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Running
29 32 16 Derek Kraus projectwyoming.com Chevrolet Running
30 3 17 Chris Buescher First Third Bank Ford Running
31 22 42 John Hunter Nemechek Family Dollar Toyota Running
32 1 45 Tyler Reddick MoneyLion Toyota Running
33 29 31 Daniel Hemric Black’s Tire Chevrolet Running
34 6 5 Kyle Larson HendrickCars.com Throwback Chevrolet Accident
35 27 71 Zane Smith Focused Health Chevrolet Accident
36 17 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Maytag Ford DVP

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series