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NASCAR Cup at Bristol: Keselowski lucks into the win when the other contenders falter

NASCAR Cup at Bristol: Keselowski lucks into the win when the other contenders falter

Bristol, TN, May 31/20 (GRW): With 40 laps to go, Brad Keselowski was back in 12th place and, seemingly, out of contention. Who would have predicted that, when the checker flag fell to mark the end of this 500-lap race, it would be Keselowski celebrating his second win in as many Sundays?

After the 16th caution of the race flew on lap 466, Keselowski took the restart in eighth place, while Denny Hamlin had the lead with Joey Logano alongside. On the green, Hamlin jumped out into a nice lead over Logano Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott. Elliott soon got past Busch into third place while Logano went low under Hamlin in an attempt to get the lead.

Hamlin fended off Logano but he got loose and went high – up into the wall - letting Logano past for the lead with Elliott right behind him. Now Elliott was pressing forward to get under Logano and he probably touched his left rear corner making him loose and sending him up into the wall. Hamlin was right behind these two and he spun out damaging his car and bringing out the 17th and final yellow with ten laps to go.

When the field lined up for this final restart, the order was Elliott, with Logano on the high side, and Busch in the second row under Keselowski. On this restart, Elliott jumped into the lead but Logano made a run at him on the low side and, after two tries, he got past him into the lead. Elliott apparently tried to copy this manouevre but, when he dropped under Logano, his car got loose and he hip-checked Logano up into the outside wall – slowing them both. Keselowski inherited the lead ahead of Busch.

Meanwhile, when Busch slowed slightly as he made his way past the two damaged cars, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson got past him to finish in second and third places while Busch had to settle for fourth ahead of Erik Jones.

PHOTO NCS BMS Logano Elliott 053120Joey Logano talks with Chase Elliott after the Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“As soon as I turned off the wall I had zero chance of making it, I’ll certainly take the blame, I just got loose,” Elliott said. “I really felt like that was my shot, he was really good on the short run and I felt like I had to keep him behind me right there in order to win the race, with only three or four laps to go. I hate we both wrecked.”

Keselowski said, “We kind of got a Christmas present here in Bristol. We’ll take it. We were in position and able to strike when it counted. Joey and Chase got together there. I don’t know what all caused it, but we were just in position to strike and here we are in Victory Lane.”

With the starting lineup determined by a draw, Keselowski lucked into a pole-position start again and he led the first 62 laps of the race. The race had two competition cautions during the first 125-lap Stage. Counting all the cautions, including the two end-of-Stage cautions, there were 17 yellows – plus a red-flag for 12 minutes in the middle of Caution No. 8 which came on lap 231. This red was put out after a number of cars crashed – including Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto, and others – and they blocked the track until they were hauled off to the garage area.

Chase Elliott was in good form here at Bristol and he led for a total of 88 laps including winning both of the first two Stages. Indeed he was looking like a probable winner right up to that final caution when took the restart from the lead position – only to crash out and finish in 22nd place at the tail of the lead lap finishers. Both Denny Hamlin and his teammate Kyle Busch gave strong performances, leading for 131 laps and 115 laps respectively – but, in the end, they had to settle for a fourth for Busch and a 17th for Hamlin.

Click HERE for the results of the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol

The next NASCAR Cup race will be run next Sunday, June 7, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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