Brad Keselowski led an uncharacteristic one lap Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, but it was the one that mattered.
Keselowski took the lead on the final lap of the GEICO 500 with a push in the bottom lane from Ford teammate Michael McDowell. The door opened for Keselowski when leader Matt DiBenedetto went from the bottom to the top at the white flag to block a run by Ryan Blaney. The finish was determined in overtime, with Keselowski holding off William Byron and McDowell as Erik Jones and Ross Chastain crashed back in the pack.
Logano after flip: ‘We have to fix’ superspeedway racingJeb Burton gets first Xfinity win in rain-shortened race at TalladegaIf he could do it over again, Davison ‘would have chased NASCAR from the beginning’
“Merry Christmas,” Keselowski said of seeing the bottom lane open. “What an awesome day today to bring the MoneyLion Ford Mustang into Victory Lane. The whole race, I had a couple opportunities to take the lead, but I just kept thinking, ‘Man, keep your car in one piece.’ We’ve been so close here, and it just didn’t seem to want to come together here the last few years, and I’ve been on kind of a four-year drought here, but it’s nice to get (win) number six. I would have never dreamed I’d tie Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. here. That’s something. Those guys are legends.
“I’m just really proud of my team. We had an accident there early and they recovered and got it fixed up to where I could keep running. My crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, had a lot of confidence. I told him, ‘I want to come in and put four tires on this thing,’ and he said, ‘Yep, go ahead.’ And that really helped a bunch at the end. Other than that, I’m just so excited.”
Keselowski is the active wins leader at Talladega Superspeedway. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is the all-time wins leader with 10 victories.
Kevin Harvick finished fourth, and DiBenedetto finished fifth. DiBenedetto won the first stage of the race and led 28 laps, which was the second most of the day.
No stopping @keselowski today!
The No. 2 car is going back to Victory Lane at @TALLADEGA! pic.twitter.com/LlyRDphhNZ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 25, 2021
Kaz Grala finished sixth with Kaulig Racing, and Tyler Reddick finished seventh. Grala collided with Jones coming through the tri-oval, which sent Jones into the outside wall.
Completing the top 10 was Austin Dillon finishing eighth, Blaney finishing ninth, and Cole Custer 10th.
DiBenedetto was leading when the final caution flew with four laps to go in regulation. A flat tire off Martin Truex Jr.’s car reshuffled the field. For the overtime restart, DiBenedetto took the inside lane with Keselowski behind him as Blaney restarted on the outside with Harvick behind him.
For the second consecutive Talladega race, DiBenedetto was leading at the white flag. In the fall race of 2020, he was penalized for forcing a driver below the yellow line coming off Turn 4.
The celebration is on at @TALLADEGA!
Retweet to congratulate @keselowski on today’s victory in the #GEICO500! pic.twitter.com/Vw4O8z75AC
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 25, 2021
A Keselowski victory makes it nine different winners in 10 Cup Series races, and it gives Team Penske a win with all three of its drivers this season. It is the 10th victory for Team Penske at Talladega Superspeedway.
The GEICO 500 had seven caution flags and 34 lead changes among 17 drivers. Denny Hamlin led the most lap – 43.