AP NEWS
Related topics

BC-CAR--NASCAR-Kansas,1st Ld-Writethru

May 12, 2019
AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Brad Keselowski raced to his third NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season Saturday night, holding off a charging pack in overtime to take the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway.

Keselowski took the lead from Alex Bowman with seven laps to go, building a big lead before a caution came out for Matt DiBenedetto. Keselowski roared away on the restart and held off Bowman and Erik Jones to add to his victories this season at Atlanta and Martinsville.

Keselowski won a day after longtime Truck Series owner Mike Mittler died of cancer at the age of 67. Mittler helped to give Keselowski and many others a chance in racing.

The win also gave Team Penske a Saturday sweep after Simon Pagenaud’s victory in a wet and wild IndyCar Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bowman finished second for the third straight week, while Jones triggered some bad blood with Kansas native Clint Bowyer by making an aggressive move that allowed him to hold onto third.

Chase Elliott dominated long stretches of the race before losing the lead to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with 22 laps to go. But after his car failed inspection twice and Elliott had to start at the back, he still managed his third consecutive top-five finish.

Bowyer rounded out the top five, though his run-in with Jones left him in no mood to celebrate.

The big question coming into the race was how NASCAR’s new rules package would fare, especially after it was panned by drivers and owners alike this week. But with overcast skies and cool temps, the package wound up producing arguably the best race of the entire Cup Series season.

Kevin Harvick dominated early before a flat right tire with 90 laps to go got him out of pit sequence. Kyle Busch then pulled into contention and was challenging for the lead when a caution came out for Austin Dillon’s lost tire with 50 laps to go, sending the leaders to the pits.

Busch wound up going through too many boxes and was sent to the back of the field.

“Sure takes the win away, doesn’t it?” Busch said ruefully on his radio.

Stenhouse took the lead when he swung past Bowman and Elliott, and Keselowski suddenly appeared in his rearview mirror. The former Cup Series champion had been hanging around the top 10 all day but had been struggling with balance, and he seemed to find it at the perfect time.

Keselowski pulled even with seven laps to go, then held his lead on the green-white-checkered restart to win the first overtime spring race at Kansas Speedway.

A FOURTH FAIL: The car chiefs for Joey Logano, Elliott and Kyle Larson were ejected after their cars failed inspection for a second time, though all three made it through on the third try.

In fact, more than a fourth of the field failed their first inspection. That included five of the top eight qualifiers, including Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr.

UP NEXT: The series heads to Charlotte for the All-Star race next Saturday night.

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport