Brad Keselowski surges late for Atlanta victory
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown SHOP: Keselowski gear HAMPTON, Ga. – Thanks to the unintentional generosity of the dominant driver in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, opportunistic Brad Keselowski won the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. Kevin Harvick led 292 of the 325 laps at the 1.54-mile track, but a pit road speeding penalty under caution on Lap 311 sent him to the back of the field for the final restart. That gave Keselowski the chance he needed, and on Lap 319 he surged past Kyle Larson for the top spot and pulled away to win by .564 seconds. Larson came home second, followed by two drivers—Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne—who lost laps early but recovered to run third and fourth, respectively. Chase Elliott overcame a pit road speeding penalty incurred on a green-flag stop on Lap 212 to finish fifth. Keselowski overcame his own issues to put his No. 2 Team Penske Ford in position to win the race. Keselowski beat Harvick off pit road after stops under caution on Lap 264, but the lug nuts on his left rear wheel weren't tight, and Keselowski had to return to pit road and give up the No. 1 position for a restart on Lap 270. But Keselowski persevered, and by the time the final caution flag waved on Lap 309, he had worked his way up to third in the running order. When Harvick drew the penalty on Lap 311, Keselowski restarted third after pitting for tires, got past Kenseth in the first corner and tracked down Larson five laps later. "We had a lot of adversity today. There's no doubt about that," said Keselowski, who won for the first time at Atlanta and for the 22nd time in his career. "These races aren't easy. They're 500 miles, and a lot can happen, and when you think you've got it, they slip away. I know how it goes. "This one kind of fell in our lap at the end, and my team put it all together when it counted. They gave me a great Autotrader Ford Fusion, and we were able to get by Kyle there at the end. I knew that he wasn't going to be easy to pass. His car was great, and I was able to make the right moves to get by him." RELATED: See every one of Keselowski's wins
Larson right at home with Coors Light Pole at Auto Club
BUY TICKETS: Qualifying results " See every car " Buy tickets for Auto Club WATCH: 1-on-1 conversation with Larson California native Kyle Larson stormed to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway. Larson notched a best lap of 187.047 mph with the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet around the 2-mile track. He'll lead the 39-car field to the green flag in Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the series' fifth race of the season and the closing event in the three-race NASCAR Goes West swing. "Really happy though, our Target team has been amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great," the series points leader said following qualifying. "I haven't gotten a pole since my rookie season. Yeah, this is awesome. "I can't say enough about everybody at our race shop for all the hard work they have been putting in." The Coors Light Pole is Larson's first of the season, first at the home-state speedway and second of his Monster Energy Cup Series career. His other pole came at Pocono Raceway during his rookie season in 2014. MORE: Larson tops first practice, to o Denny Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota will flank Larson's car on the front row after grabbing the second starting position with a lap of 186.979 mph in the last of three qualifying sessions. Hamlin had the provisional pole until Larson knocked him off, leading the JGR driver to playfully fling water at Larson's car as it came back to pit road. Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and last week's winner, Ryan Newman, completed the top five in Friday's qualifying. Larson's pole run capped an eventful qualifying session, with five cars failing to make qualifying attempts for different reasons. Jimmie Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner, crashed his primary No. 48 Chevrolet near the end of opening practice. With no laps on an untested reserve car, the Hendrick Motorsports team opted to skip the session. RELATED: Johnson sits out qualifying Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto failed to log speeds in the opening 20-minute round after their cars did not make it to the grid through pre-qualifying inspection. MORE: Logano, more miss qualifying after tech holdups "It happens. We're a team, right?" Logano said after missing out on the first round. "Obviously, everyone's trying to push it and get every ounce of speed out of our cars when we can. I don't even know why we didn't make it through on time. ... No big deal." Keselowski and Paul Menard both drove away after scrapes with the Turn 2 wall during the second of three rounds. Two more practice sessions are scheduled Saturday for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. &lt;/p&gt;
RECAP: 'Bad' Brad battles back
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman recaps the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 where a late surge from Brad Keselowski gave him the win after Kevin Harvick led most of the laps at Atlanta.
Elliott tops final practice, scrapes wall at Auto Club
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Final practice results " Practice 2 results " Best 10-lap averages Chase Elliott posted the fastest lap in Saturday's final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, but a scrape with the outside retaining wall early in the session left his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet team with work to do. Elliott posted his best speed at 187.480 mph before making contact with the wall just 10 minutes into the final session. He cited a parts failure on the left-front corner of the car that his crew was investigating ahead of Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "We don't really know why it did," Elliott told FS1. "It was nothing fancy or anything we were doing, it's just something that needs to be together to go. We'll look into why. I don't know if it's just the roughness of the race track that bounced it loose or something like that, but I hate it. I was really happy with the NAPA Chevy throughout that run. I thought we were close, maybe needed a tick more initially in a run. "I thought it was decent, so I was pleased with that. Unfortunately, this now puts us behind and we'll have to go to work and hopefully try to get it tuned back up. It's hurt pretty good." The 21-year-old driver indicated that his crew was working to hopefully avoid going to a reserve car. Elliott is scheduled to start 13th in Sunday's 400-miler. "We're going to try to fix this one," Elliott told FS1. "I mean, we'd love to keep our primary. ... We would love to keep this car. I don't know if we can or not, but like I said, it definitely puts us in a hole. I know they'll work hard and try to get it tuned up as best we can for tomorrow." Martin Truex Jr. posted the second-fastest lap (187.378 mph) in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota. Ryan Blaney was third-fastest in the Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford, with Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones -- Truex's Furniture Row teammate -- fourth-best in the No. 77 Toyota. Coors Light Pole Award winner Kyle Larson was fifth-fastest in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He drove away from a slight brush with the wall shortly after Elliott's incident. WATCH: Busch's smoky slide in practice Kyle Busch, a three-time Auto Club winner, was involved in a solo spin at the 34-minute mark of the 50-minute session, avoiding contact with the wall or other cars. He limped his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota back to the garage. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford and Kurt Busch's Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford were also among several cars to brush the wall during Saturday's final tune-up. "No, I think I was above the seam by the time the car got loose," Busch told FS1. "It over-rotated on me. I tried getting in the throttle and getting it to rotate a little bit and it just kept going too far. Spun it out on exit there, and unfortunately just didn't keep all the air in the tires in order to be able to drive it back and not damage the car a little bit more than we already did. Not too bad. "We're just missing it a little bit. There's just something that we can't get right on (corner) entry this weekend and we've been trying to work on that, and it's kind of messing up the rest of the corner for us." WATCH: Harvick hits the wall in practice Kevin Harvick, who made contact with the wall in Saturday's earlier practice, returned for the final session and posted the eighth-best lap (185.706 mph) in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford. Erik Jones fast in Saturday's early session Erik Jones topped Saturday's opening practice session at Auto Club Speedway ahead of Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the fifth race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Jones posted a lap of 187.251 mph in the Furniture Row Racing No. 77 Toyota to pace the 55-minute session. He was also fastest in the category of consecutive 10-lap averages. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate will start 14th in Sunday's 400-miler, the last of three races in the NASCAR Goes West swing. RELATED: Consecutive 10-lap average speeds Chase Elliott registered the second-fastest lap, ringing up 186.843 mph on the speed chart in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. Ryan Newman, last week's winner at Phoenix Raceway, was third-fastest in the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson, who damaged his primary car in Friday's opening practice, turned his first laps with his reserve Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet on Saturday morning. He was fourth-fastest at 186.384 mph. Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five in the first practice of the day. RELATED: Johnson passes on qualifying after practice wreck Pole sitter Kyle Larson, who also topped Friday's lone practice, placed 22nd on the board in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. The practice was marked by two incidents late in the session. Kevin Harvick scraped the right side of his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford on the Turn 4 wall with just over 10 minutes left in the session. Harvick managed the sixth-fastest speed in the 14 laps he turned before the incident. A more significant impact for David Ragan's No. 38 Ford into the outside retaining wall brought the session to a close with less than two minutes of practice remaining. His Front Row Motorsports team will opt for a reserve car for the balance of the race weekend. WATCH: Ragan hits wall, will go to backup "We just cut a left-rear tire going down the back straightaway and I tried to start slowing it down as quick as I could, and just couldn't slow it down fast enough," Ragan said. "By the time I got to Turn 3, I was wrecking before I even got to the corner. It's certainly unfortunate. I felt like our Camping World Ford was pretty decent. We made a few adjustments and hadn't put new tires on yet, and I felt like our speeds hadn't fallen off a lot, so it's unfortunate. Hopefully, we can get our backup out in time to make a few laps in the second practice." Five teams were held out of the opening 15 minutes of practice because of technical violations Friday. Trevor Bayne's team was docked for failing on two passes through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS). The cars of Joey Logano, Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto failed LIS on their second pass through. The No 38 Ford of David Ragan was penalized for an improper seal for transmission or gears. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Best 10-lap consecutive averages at Auto Club
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary PRACTICE 1: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 182.404 2 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 180.880 PRACTICE 2: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 77 Erik Jones # 1 10 183.048 2 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 182.874 3 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 182.788 4 42 Kyle Larson 1 10 182.341 5 31 Ryan Newman 1 10 182.081 6 14 Clint Bowyer 5 14 182.050 7 11 Denny Hamlin 1 10 181.688 8 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 181.650 9 43 Aric Almirola 1 10 181.150 10 3 Austin Dillon 13 22 180.353 11 78 Martin Truex Jr. 7 16 180.279 12 24 Chase Elliott 11 20 179.950 13 34 Landon Cassill 1 10 179.764 14 95 Michael McDowell 1 10 179.751 15 21 Ryan Blaney 7 16 179.635 16 20 Matt Kenseth 9 18 179.453 17 32 Matt DiBenedetto 1 10 178.673 FINAL PRACTICE: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 78 Martin Truex Jr. 1 10 182.180 2 24 Chase Elliott 1 10 182.049 3 42 Kyle Larson 12 21 181.894 4 77 Erik Jones # 1 10 181.873 5 4 Kevin Harvick 15 24 181.603 6 21 Ryan Blaney 1 10 181.551 7 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 181.436 8 22 Joey Logano 18 27 181.417 9 20 Matt Kenseth 1 10 181.375 10 2 Brad Keselowski 1 10 181.300 11 14 Clint Bowyer 1 10 181.250 12 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 181.243 13 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 180.845 14 48 Jimmie Johnson 19 28 180.836 15 11 Denny Hamlin 1 10 180.786 16 31 Ryan Newman 18 27 180.613 17 43 Aric Almirola 1 10 180.551 18 3 Austin Dillon 1 10 180.509 19 6 Trevor Bayne 1 10 180.034 20 47 AJ Allmendinger 20 29 179.620 21 41 Kurt Busch 1 10 179.524 22 19 Daniel Suarez # 18 27 179.298 23 27 Paul Menard 11 20 178.671 24 10 Danica Patrick 1 10 178.289 25 32 Matt DiBenedetto 1 10 178.224 26 95 Michael McDowell 1 10 177.971 27 37 Chris Buescher 18 27 177.859 28 34 Landon Cassill 1 10 176.988 29 51 * Timmy Hill(i) 9 18 167.128 * Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart. * Required to qualify on time # Indicates driver is a rookie in the series (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
What we're thankful for, NASCAR edition
The weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing colors, the days are getting shorter ... and there's no on-track NASCAR action for a while. All of the above means one thing: It's Thanksgiving. Given that this is a time to pause and reflect on the many things for which we are thankful, here are some of the many NASCAR-related things the editorial staff of NASCAR.com are thankful for: We are thankful for ... • Jimmie Johnson . NASCAR is fortunate that one of its greatest drivers is also one of its greatest men. -- Brad Norman • Martin Truex Jr .'s mean air guitar on the NASCAR on NBC intro song of "Bringing Back the Sunshine." Truex showed off his rock star-like ability on the track this season in one of the feel-good stories of 2016. Seeing Truex and girlfriend Sherry Pollex tackle her fight with cancer head-on has been especially impactful for me on a personal level as my mother was recently diagnosed with cancer. -- RJ Kraft • Kyle Larson 's penchant for riding the high line ever-so-close to the wall. It adds an element of edge-of-your-seat excitement to any race where he's running in the front because you never know what's going to happen next. -- George Winkler • Seeing the Tide car ride again at Darlington. -- Kathy Sheldon • Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s positivity and transparency. Not many athletes would let fans and media into a very personal concussion recovery process, but Junior has been as honest and upbeat as ever throughout his healing. His continued presence at the track and positive voice in the sport has been a blessing to us all. – Jessica Ruffin • Jimmie Johnson . Being able to work for NASCAR and have a front row seat to history being made with his seventh Sprint Cup Series championship is something I’ll never forget. I'm in awe of his talent. This must be what it was like working for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. -- Pat DeCola • SAFER barrier and safety personnel. We haven't stopped writing about injuries, but the instances are much less frequent today. -- Kenny Bruce • Martin Truex Jr ., Sherry Pollex and Barney Visser, who had the courage to do something different and run a race team from Denver. All the time and effort the Furniture Row Racing team puts in is clearly paying off, and I look forward to watching them grow to two teams next season with Erik Jones . -- George Winkler • Night races in the summer heat. -- Kathy Sheldon • Short-track racing. The action at Bristol and Martinsville is typically among the most entertaining of the season. Richmond produced a bump-and-run between teammates in the spring, and Iowa also is a great track. Tempers tend to flare at the smaller venues, and the racing is among the tightest you'll see all season. -- RJ Kraft • Local short tracks. Dirt? Asphalt? Quarter-mile? Three-eighths? Yes. -- Brad Norman • Daytona in February and Homestead in November. There aren't two better places, or tracks, to begin and end a season. All the ones in between? Yeah, they're pretty nice, too. -- Kenny Bruce
Staff picks for Talladega Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : The Daytona 500 winner has experience in getting to Victory Lane at restrictor-plate tracks. If his tendency for sour luck in the Chase -- see last year's odd roof flap issue in this race -- doesn't bite him, Hamlin has a strong shot at advancing with a Talladega win. -- Zack Albert Brad Keselowski : He was backed against a wall in 2014 and came through with a dramatic win to advance in the Chase, and he'll do it again on the heels of winning at Talladega this spring. -- George Winkler Brad Keselowski : Seems like an obvious pick because of Keselowski's two restrictor-plate wins this season coming into Talladega. But the former Cup champ is so good at this form of racing, particularly at Talladega where he got his first career Cup win and three more including this spring. And most importantly ... he needs a good showing to advance in the Chase. This is his race. -- Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson : The man who doesn't need the win -- thanks to his Charlotte victory -- gets the W to lock some strong competition out of the Round of 8. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : The talented Team Penske driver hasn't had exceptional results this season, but he's been lurking. We saw what he can do in this round last year, and I think he turns it on when it counts and takes Talladega for the second year in a row. -- Pat DeCola Matt Kenseth : One year after a Round of 12 he'd rather forget, the Joe Gibbs Racing veteran leaves no doubt and secures his second career win at Talladega. -- Brad Norman Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
NASCAR.com staff predicts 2016 Sprint Cup champion
RELATED: Stats breakdown reveals championship favorite Carl Edwards : Went with the No. 19 as a championship pick on my pre-Chase grid, thinking the postseason schedule lined up favorably. The Championship 4 -- especially this season -- is a toss-up, but Edwards' history at Homestead (two wins, two poles) may tip the scales. -- Zack Albert Joey Logano : The Team Penske driver has been loose and fast throughout the Chase and comes into this weekend's race with much-needed final-round experience. Crew chief Todd Gordon is one of the best. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : Jimmie was my preseason pick to win his seventh championship, and I feel even better about the selection now. No one in his era is better at winning titles and he has shown the ability to do whatever is necessary at Homestead to secure the prized hardware. -- Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson : Now that Johnson has figured out how to outlast his competition in the new Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format, don't expect him to let a historic seventh championship slip from his grip. -- Pat DeCola Kyle Busch : The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters with the least amount of pressure as the defending champion, and that should lead to a relaxing and celebration-filled weekend in Miami. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : Over the last four races he's won twice, led for 302 laps and has finished no worse than ninth. To say he's on fire is an understatement. -- Maggie MacKenzie Kyle Busch : Let's not overthink this. The defending champion is back in the title race, as the best driver on the best team in NASCAR. He also has been the best driver in the Chase, with six top-five finishes through nine races. Busch repeats. -- Brad Norman Jimmie Johnson : Johnson & Co. showed speed in practice and fought through a tough qualifying session, proving they have the calm resilience -- and long-run speed -- needed to win the coveted title No. 7. -- Jessica Ruffin Carl Edwards : All the reminders of that tiebreaker loss in 2011 have stoked the fire of title desire. Edwards' No. 19 has the speed, and we know JGR equipment is stout. A will and a way combine for a championship. -- Kathy Sheldon Carl Edwards : Sentimentally, I'd like to see him get redemption for 2011 and for Concrete Carl to cement a Hall of Fame-worthy career, but he's also a good pick from a stats perspective. He has the best average finish at Homestead among the Championship 4 drivers and the most career wins there (two). -- George Winkler
Staff picks for GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
RELATED: See all the cars lined up for Sunday's race Denny Hamlin : If Joe Gibbs Racing can get organized in the same way it did at Daytona in February, the No. 11 could be the winning ticket at Talladega. -- Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Series' best plate racer has had three runner-up finishes this season. He's due. -- Kenny Bruce Jimmie Johnson : This will mark the 10th Talladega race since Johnson last won here and, quite simply, it's time. While his teammates will grab the lion's share of the attention, "Six-Time" will ultimately hold the winner's trophy -- his third. -- Holly Cain Joey Logano : Entering the weekend, I'd already pegged Joey Logano as the favorite -- then he went out and topped final practice. Seemingly due for a win and with a pair of restrictor-plate victories in his back pocket from last year, what more are you looking for? -- Pat DeCola Ryan Blaney : His best Cup finish came in this race last year and Penske, with whom Wood Brothers is affiliated, has taken two of the last three 'Dega races. -- RJ Kraft Dale Earnhardt Jr .: I'm jumping on the Junior bandwagon. He's always the one to beat at the 2.66-mile track and he'll make it difficult for the rest of the field en route to his seventh Cup win here. -- Maggie MacKenzie Brad Keselowski : The 2012 premier series champion spoils the recent Hendrick-JGR show of power, thanks to his own racing ingenuity and plenty of fast Fords with which to partner. -- Brad Norman Brad Keselowski : The Team Penske driver earned his first Cup win in 2009 at Talladega and has won twice more since. Couple that with he and teammate Joey Logano 's history of working closely together on-track -- a crucial element to plate racing -- and 'Dega Victory Lane could be calling Keselowski's name. -- Jessica Ruffin Matt Kenseth : All the bad luck that the No. 20 team has had this year has masked impressive speed. Talladega is about both luck and speed. With the former in hand as shown by his fourth-place qualifying effort, Kenseth is due for a more auspicious turn of his fortune. -- Kathy Sheldon Denny Hamlin : Hamlin saw Victory Lane two years ago at Talladega and with his 2016 Daytona 500 win under his belt, the JGR driver seems ready to dominate another superspeedway this season. -- Taylor Starer Chase Elliott : His dad won here twice and the man who drove the No. 24 before him won here six times. Talladega has been known to produce dramatic moments, so let's root for another one to happen Sunday. -- George Winkler Make your picks in Streak to the Finish !
Staff picks for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Kasey Kahne : The Coca-Cola 600 is such a different animal that rewards mental acuity, pure tenacity and physical fitness. Kasey Kahne has those qualities and won NASCAR's endurance event three times, and with two top-five finishes already this season, this is where he breaks out of his 59-race winless rut. -- Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : It'll be a clean Charlotte sweep for Sliced Bread, who got his mojo back during the Sprint All-Star Race. Last week's $1 million win probably felt spectacular -- the feeling may be equal Sunday night when Logano celebrates his biggest NASCAR victory to date. -- Brad Norman Carl Edwards : He's the defending race winner and has posted five straight top 10s at Charlotte. Kevin Harvick is the only other driver who can say that, but the No. 19 pit crew gives him the edge -- by a footlong Subway sandwich at the finish. -- George Winkler Kevin Harvick : This one's an easy pick for me. There's a reason why Harvick sits atop the standings and that's exactly where he'll stay after cruising to another Coca-Cola 600 win. -- Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The most recent Charlotte winner, Logano's No. 22 Ford seems ready for 600 miles of action, as he topped two of the three rounds of qualifying, scoring a second-place starting position. With a fast car and plenty of momentum after his All-Star win, look for the Team Penske driver to punch his ticket to the Chase Sunday with his first '16 victory. -- Jessica Ruffin Martin Truex Jr . : Forget about what has gone wrong late in races for the No. 78 team, Truex has consistently been one of the best on the intermediate tracks this season. The Furniture Row Racing driver will cash in on his pole run and strong pit spot for his first win of 2016. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : Becomes first driver to sweep All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 since Kurt Busch in 2010. Logano drives the No. 22 Ford for team owner Roger Penske, Busch's team owner in '10. -- Kenny Bruce
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