Brad Keselowski's Coca-Cola 600 weight loss
The Coca-Cola 600 is no joke and Brad Keselowski wants you to know it. Kes proved -- via Twitter and photos of his scale -- that the marathon event is, in fact, as draining on the body as you'd expect a marathon to be. About eight pounds draining, in fact. Pre race weigh in. Expecting to lose 8lbs tonight. #CocaCola600 #GoingFor2 pic.twitter.com/4T0SIdIZX9 — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) May 29, 2016 Pretty close. 8lbs lost. Decent day for us. 78 was fast. #CocaCola600 pic.twitter.com/aE1en36XtZ — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) May 30, 2016
Keselowski's Darlington paint scheme revealed
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Keselowski gear Team Penske driver and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski unveiled his Darlington Raceway throwback paint scheme Wednesday evening on FS1's "Race Hub." The No. 2 Ford will sport a 1972 design by Miller Lite with a lighter shade of blue and a line of gold between the primary colors of blue and white. "We're showing the old-school Miller Lite colors for this race," Keselowski said after pulling the cover off the car. " ... It's very old school, and it's going to be another fun weekend." RELATED: Darlington announces 2016 throwback theme
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's , on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski . It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski . But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski , an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski , now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
2nd place Keselowski runs into Dillon
Brad Keselowski takes some heavy front-end damage after running into Austin Dillon. Keselowski was in second place at the time of the contact.
The Rundown: Charlotte driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : 1. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . A historic win. Truex set so many records, we can’t list them all. So we’ll settle for this one: He led a Sprint Cup -record 588 miles. Oh, and his 392 laps led … taken alone, they would rank 121st all time in series history. Grade: AAA+ (and that might be a tad low) 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Another second-place finish for Harvick (47th of his career). One more and he ties Lee Petty for 10th all time. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson sniffed the lead after the final restart, but Superman said no. Instead, Johnson will be the answer to the trivia question: Who led the second-most laps (five) of the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 ? Sort of like: Who was the second-leading scorer the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game? And, no, I don’t know. Grade: A 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin picked up 5 seconds on leader Martin Truex Jr . on the night’s second pit stop … and still lost by 6.4 seconds. That’ll happen in a 600-mile race. Grade: A 5. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kevin Harvick raced so close to each other for the first half of the race, you’d have thought a big ol’ magnet in one of the cars was keeping them side by side. Grade: A 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch increased his series-leading top-10 finishes to 11 and also moved up a spot to second in the standings behind Kevin Harvick . Grade: A 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Disaster came knocking on a green-flag pit stop late in the first half of the race when Austin Dillon fired out of his pit stall and went way wide into Kenseth. Fortunately the impact was minimal. Grade: A 8. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott was running eighth when he was hit with a speeding penalty on the first pit stop; 373 laps later he finished eighth. Nice job. Grade: A 9. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Not that Logano would have been able to run down Martin Truex Jr ., but any chance at the win went away during green-flag pit stops around Lap 254 when a crew member was over the wall too soon. After serving the penalty, Logano was 21st, one lap down, which effectively ended his night. The team battled back, but that’s a mistake that can’t be made, especially with your driver running so well in such a big race. Grade: D 10. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was penalized for speeding on pit road during the third caution but battled back to post his fourth top 10 of the season and move up a spot to 16th in the standings. Grade: B 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle posted his best finish of the season but couldn’t end his drought of top-10 finishes. His previous top 10 was last September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he finished fourth. Grade: B 12. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon started 28th and needed all 400 laps to claw his way up. Grade: B 13. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson made a lot of noise early and was running fourth at the halfway point before fading. Grade: B 14. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior was on pit road when the final yellow flag came out, and he took the wave-around to return to the lead lap … albeit a little deeper in the field for the final restart with 56 laps to go. He was never vying for a win, but that cost him a higher finish. Grade: B 15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was the lucky dog on the final caution, enabling him to score his sixth finish in the teens (13th through 16th) in the past seven races. Grade: B 16. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger’s 19.3 average running position was highest among drivers finishing in the top 20 and his 10 laps in the top 15 were the lowest. Grade: C 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard’s 11th-place-finish at Dover coupled with his 17th Sunday gave him his second-best back-to-back finishes of the season, behind his 15th-8th at Auto Club and Martinsville. Grade: C 18. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was a fixture in the top 10 and running third when he was hit with two green-flag pit-road speeding penalties. The first came when he was too fast entering the pits on Lap 298. The second came when he was too fast entering pit road to do his pass-through penalty, which required him to do a stop-and-go on the next lap. That put a fork in any chance for a decent finish: Grade: D 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray’s average running position was 19.1, and that’s exactly where he finished. Grade: C 20. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Not a bad finish considering Blaney was hit with his first pit-road speeding penalty of the season on the competition caution, had to return to pit road because of a loose wheel during the third caution and had his right rear tire go down with three laps to go. Grade: C 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica’s consistent: Sunday’s finish was her eighth in the 20s this season. Grade: C 22. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne’s right front tire went down early putting him two laps back, and he spent the rest of the night slowly making up ground. Grade: C 23. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer was never a factor and saw his string of top-20 finishes end at three. Grade: C 24. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart qualified 21st but rolled off the grid 39th when NASCAR caught a crew member making an unauthorized change to the car on pit road before the race. A pit-road penalty for speeding during the third caution didn’t help things, either. Grade: D 25. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since getting his first top 10 of the season at Bristol, Bayne has had a top-10 finish every other race. If the pattern holds, he’ll get his first top 10 at Pocono next week. Grade: C 26. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola finished outside the top 10 for the 14th consecutive race, the fourth-longest such streak of his Cup career. Grade: C 27. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Of the season’s 13 races, Cassill has finished 25th, 26th, 27th or 28th six times. Grade: C 28. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his second-best finish in his past eight races. Grade: C 29. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott finished in the top 30 for the fourth race in a row. Grade: C- 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears’ finish is his worst in the 600 since a 33rd-place finish in the rain-shortened 2009 race while driving for Richard Childress Racing . Grade: D 31. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan finished seven laps back but was running at the finish; he had DNFs in both Charlotte races last year. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Although he finished 32nd, DiBenedetto was running at the finish, unlike in two of the previous three races. Grade: D 33. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was running 10th and flirting with a top-10 finish when he cut a tire with seven laps to go and smacked the outside wall hard. Instead, he finished with his second straight DNF. Grade: B- 34. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell posted his worst finish of the season. Grade: D 35. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was running at the finish, nine laps back. Grade: D 36. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett finished 10 laps back. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher could not build on his career-best 18th-place finish at Dover. Grade: F 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise finished 13 laps back but was running at the finish for the fourth time in the past five races. Grade: F 39. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt’s finish was a season low. Grade: F 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson completed 200 laps before clutch issues ended his night. Grade: F
Johnson on Truex Jr.: 'He wasn't going to be denied'
RELATED: Results " Updated standings " Post-Charlotte Chase Grid CONCORD, N.C. -- On a night where Martin Truex Jr . dominated the Coca-Cola 600 and shattered several NASCAR records in one of the Sprint Cup Series' most storied races, the rest of the field was left to tip its cap to a driver that has come oh-so-close to winning already in 2016. MORE: Truex rewrites history Truex led 392 of 400 laps (the most ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway ) and his 588 miles led (of 600) was the most led in NASCAR history. The performance was so stellar that Jimmie Johnson , who finished third, stopped mid-interview on pit road to congratulate and give Truex a high-five. "He was too damn fast not to," Johnson joked afterward. Race runner-up Kevin Harvick spent the latter part of the race trying to get to Truex but couldn't reel him in. "I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him." Johnson led the second-most laps in the field at five and, at times, seemed to be close to making a move to get the lead. But the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion couldn't quite get there. "I thought I had him clear twice and somehow he just drove by on the straightaway," Johnson said. "His car was just really strong and there were many times where I thought I'd get close and then he'd pick the pace up a couple tenths. I think he had plenty of speed on the side and could really control the race." Johnson knows a little something about being dominant. In 2004, he led 334 laps en route to winning the Coca-Cola 600 . He has also led 300 laps two other times, both coming at Martinsville in 2008 and 2013. The fact that Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota have been so close to Victory Lane this season -- he led 141 laps at Texas and 172 laps at Kansas before late-race trouble found the 78 team in both instances -- was not lost on Johnson. RELATED: Truex: When he's led 100 laps or more "They've had a few runs where they've just been the class of the field and things have just kept them from Victory Lane," Johnson said. "Tonight, he wasn't going to be denied. There was no way around that." Joey Logano started the race alongside Truex on the front row and spent some time chasing Truex from the front, as well. The Sprint All-Star Race winner summed up his pursuit succinctly. "We didn't have anything for the 78," Logano said. "Martin Truex was on fire tonight and really all weekend. They had it figured out." Like Johnson, Logano said he could stay close for a little bit, but was no match for the 78 on the long runs. "There were times that we were racing him up front for the lead on restarts," Logano said. "We'd run with him for a while and then eventually on the long run he just took off. We had nothing for him, but at times I thought we were definitely a second-place car -- but unfortunately it's a distant second." The win was a popular one in the garage with Johnson saying how well-liked Truex is by his fellow competitors. That sentiment was echoed by fifth-place finisher Brad Keselowski . "You see a guy like Martin win and you can't help but feel good about it," Keselowski said. "He's a good person and he deserves all the success he gets." MORE: Relive the day in photos
Martin Truex Jr. wins Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion
RELATED: Full race results " SHOP: Truex Jr. Gear CONCORD, N.C. -- The heartbreak kid survived 600 miles without another broken heart. Instead, Martin Truex Jr . broke records in Sunday night's victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , a race in which the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota set new standards for domination. Truex led 392 of 400 laps, most ever in NASCAR's longest Sprint Cup Series race. He spent 588 of 600 miles at the front of the field, most ever in a single race in NASCAR history. RELATED: When Truex Jr. has led 100 laps or more And when it was over, Truex had his first victory of the season, the fourth of his career and an all-but-guaranteed berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Perhaps more important, Truex erased a litany of crushing disappointments that continued into this season and ruined potential winning efforts at Texas, Kansas and Dover. "It's just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600," Truex said in Victory Lane. "Really proud of my team -- everybody that made this possible, that believed in me, gave me this opportunity. (Crew chief) Cole Pearn, Jazzy (team engineer Jeff Curtis), my guys are something special. "I want to thank all of them. This is a big day. Got the troops on the cars (for Memorial Day recognition). This is a special weekend. It's really neat to bring that name (of fallen hero Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr.) home to Victory Lane. Just a lot of emotion right now. Not really sure it's sunk in yet. Just an amazing day, an amazing weekend for all of us. It's a weekend you dream about." Truex finished 2.572 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick , whose car tightened up during the final 56-lap green-flag run. Jimmie Johnson ran third and led the second-most laps -- five. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top five, but the night belonged to Truex. When darkness fell, Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life, but the tight handling condition that developed over the final 80 miles prevented him from taking the fight to Truex. "Well, I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack. I didn't have a lot of time to see the 78." Johnson was pleased with the speed in his own No. 48 Chevrolet, but it was no match for Truex's Camry. "I kind of felt like he was playing with us," Johnson said. "He was so fast. I would flatfoot (Turns) 1 and 2, and have a nose on him, and he would drive right back by me into Turn 3. It was so fast. It was very impressive. I'm happy for Martin. That team and those guys worked awfully hard to get where they’re at." But for the vagaries of green-flag pit stop cycles, Truex was out front for the entire race. He led 336 of the first 344 laps, surpassing the race and speedway record of 335 set by 1967 Coke 600 winner Jim Paschal. MORE: Most dominant races in NASCAR history The average speed of the race, 160.644 mph, was a record for a Coca-Cola 600 that went the full distance, as was the duration of the race, 3 hours, 44 minutes, 8 seconds. Truex achieved a perfect driver rating of 150.0, the first of his career. "I had confidence," Truex added. "I had faith. I had confidence in my team. I've got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry (Pollex, Truex's girlfriend and an ovarian cancer survivor), she gives me a lot of inspiration. "And we keep on fighting. We never give up. We never quit. We always keep digging, and I'm proud of my guys for sticking by me. They all did a great job tonight. There are so many fans that have supported us the last few years with so many heartbreaks. I really appreciate that. I really had fun tonight."
Keselowski makes spectacular move for second
Brad Keselowski stays out after the first competition caution and makes a daring move to stay in the top five.
Bruce: Honor the unfamiliar names on Sprint Cup windshields
RELATED: Learn about the troops being honored this weekend CONCORD, N.C. -- For the second consecutive year, the names displayed across the windshields of the cars that will take the green flag in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) will be unfamiliar to most race fans. Gone are the names of Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski and Kenseth emblazoned across the tops of the vehicles. There is no Stewart, Busch or Logano. They have been replaced on this Memorial Day weekend with the names of Lynch, Taylor, Massarelli and Miranda. Carter, Jablonsky, Ramseyer and Gonzales. It's a long list. It's too long of a list. Including grand marshal vehicles and two pace cars, 44 of the vehicles here at Charlotte Motor Speedway will carry the names of fallen members of the United States military. Army. Navy. Marines. Air Force. Pilot. Gunner. Seal. Ranger. Their ranks varied. Their job did not. They were soldiers. They made the ultimate sacrifice. It's 600 Miles of Remembrance in the eyes of the NASCAR community. It's a lifetime of memories to those who knew them. RELATED: Every car in the field, plus fallen military member's name NASCAR officials worked with the Honor and Remember organization to pair fallen servicemen and women and their families with teams where no direct affiliations existed. But most of those we honor today at CMS had ties to NASCAR, through relationships with drivers or crewmen, sponsors or owners. Graham Molatch, the jack man for Chip Ganassi Racing 's No. 42 Chevrolet with driver Kyle Larson , is a former Navy Seal. Larson's car carries the name of fellow Seal Denis Miranda. The two were roommates serving in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010 when Miranda died in a helicopter crash. "Denis was just a great person and I'm really, really honored to have a chance to have (him) on our car," Molatch said Saturday at CMS. "It means a lot to me. I think it means a lot to the guys on the team that we get to support Denis' name and his family. … "They should be acknowledged more than just once a year but it is great … to display their names. It's an honor for me personally, and a great honor for his family." Jimmy Woolard was a childhood friend of team co-owner Jack Roush. Woolard, whose name is carried on the No. 17 Ford of driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . this weekend, was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Master Sergeant Paul Karpowich was a family friend of Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet for driver Tony Stewart . PFC John Borbonus was a classmate of driver Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) in Boise, Idaho. There are others. Too many others. Their photos are strikingly similar, most showing vibrant, smiling faces, full of life. Some were on their first mission; many had been a part of multiple deployments. There are those who left behind wives and young children. For others, family life would have come later. Later never arrived. There are those who left behind mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. We honor them today every bit as much as we do those who are no longer with us. You may not recognize their names. But you should know why those names are there. It's the very least we can do.
Keselowski holds off field for Talladega victory
RELATED: Race results SHOP: No. 2 gear TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Taking control in the final three laps of Sunday's wreck-filled GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , Brad Keselowski claimed his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at the 2.66-mile race track and solidified his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Choosing the top lane for a restart on Lap 186 of 188, Keselowski powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past Kurt Busch with two laps left and crossed the finish line as a gaggle of cars wrecked behind him coming to the stripe. "The last three or four restarts before that, the high lane had went, and as the leader a lot of it is out of your control," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "You need the cars behind you to push and a couple of them they did and a couple they didn't. That's just part of racing, and there was nobody at fault with that. "We actually lost the lead and got a better run. Jamie McMurray behind me gave me a great push, and then Kyle Busch gave me a push that was big to clear the 41 ( Kurt Busch ), and without those two I couldn't have made it to the front. So 'Thank you' to them. It's Talladega. This is my fourth win here. I never thought I'd win at Talladega four times, and I'm super-pumped. This is awesome." In claiming the 19th victory of his career, Keselowski became the fourth two-time winner in the Sprint Cup series this season. RELATED: Keselowski celebrates fourth 'Dega win The race ended under caution, with Kyle Busch in second place and Austin Dillon bringing his battered No. 3 Chevrolet home in third as the survivor of two early crashes. McMurray ran fourth, one spot ahead of polesitter Chase Elliott , who worked his way up from ninth to fifth after the final restart. Ty Dillon finished sixth after taking over for Tony Stewart under the first caution on Lap 51, a move that proved wise given the combination of Stewart's recent recovery from a broken back and the chaos that followed late in the race. Clint Bowyer was seventh -- his best result so far this year -- and Kurt Busch was shuffled back to eighth on the final lap. With drivers jockeying for position and making risky moves throughout the race -- with a sense of urgency exacerbated by the threat of rain that never came -- Sunday's event featured 10 cautions and more torn-up race cars than one can count on a full complement of fingers and toes. There wasn't just one "Big One." There were three massive wrecks at Talladega on Sunday, with one melee on Lap 161 involving 21 cars, more than half the field. Kurt Busch ignited that accident by tapping Jimmie Johnson 's bumper in the wrong place, turning Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet into Paul Menard 's Chevy and triggering a wreck that ended with chassis strewn across the racing surface and on the infield grass. On Lap 181, a 12-car chain-reaction incident took out hard-luck Matt Kenseth , who had led 39 laps, second only to Keselowski's 46. Earlier, on Lap 96, Chris Buescher 's No. 34 Ford took the brunt of a seven-car crash that ended with Buescher barrel-rolling three times after contact from Michael Annett 's Chevrolet. "I thought we were clear of the wreck," Buescher said after leaving the infield care center. "I saw it happening in front of us and checked up, and the next thing I knew I was upside down. "We felt we were decent this race. We were holding our own and waiting, but here we are. It's unfortunate. I really hate it for the guys." By the time Buescher flipped, Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s winning chance already had evaporated. Fighting a loose handling condition in heavy traffic, Earnhardt lost control of his No. 88 Chevrolet on Lap 50 and wiped out Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne . Earnhardt returned to the race only to be ridden into the Turn 1 wall when Carl Edwards ' damaged Toyota blew a right front tire and shot up the track into Earnhardt's path. That was a two-car incident, a small one relative to the multicar crashes that followed in the second half of the race, which, in true restrictor-plate racing fashion, produced 37 lead changes among 17 drivers. "You know, it's just Talladega,” Kyle Busch said, summing up the afternoon. "It is what it is. These cars, you try to get a little bit aggressive, start bumping people and pushing people, they're real easy to get out of control. "I really don't know why we're bumping and pushing and everything else, because these cars, they go slower when you push. Makes a lot of sense. That's how stupid we are." Keselowski might argue that point, because pushes from both McMurray and Busch got him to the front when it counted most.