- Brad Keselowski’s first win of the 2018 season is one he won’t soon forget. Keselowski grabbed the lead from Kyle Larson with 22 laps to go and never looked back to win the Bojangles’ Southern 500 Sunday night at Darlington Raceway. The win was Keselowski’s first in 10 races at Darlington and his 25th in 330 MENCS starts. The victory was the first for Team Penske at Darlington since Bobby Allison swept both races at the 1.366-mile speedway in 1975. This also marked the 498th win for the organization.
- Keselowski qualified 13th but steadily worked his way through traffic to score a fifth-place finish when Stage 1 concluded on lap 100. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 103 for tires and adjustments. Keselowski restarted fifth when the second stage began on lap 107.
- During Stage 2, the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Ford Fusion continued to improve. He made three pit stops during the segment and each time crew chief Paul Wolfe was able to improve the handling of the No. 2 Ford Fusion. Keselowski scored a second-place finish in the stage and after a round of pit stops under caution on lap 203 restarted fifth when the race went green on lap 207.
- In Stage 3, Keselowski ran comfortably inside the top-five and solid work by the No. 2 pit crew kept him in contention. He was running second on lap 313 when the fourth caution came out during a round of green flag stops. He pitted on lap 317 for four tires and adjustments and restarted second when the race went green on lap 322. A yellow on lap 330 would also shuffle the running order but it was the final caution on lap 345 and round of pit stops that was the turning point for Keselowski and the No. 2 team. He was running second behind Kyle Larson when he made his final stop on lap 346. The No. 2 crew won the race off pit road, giving Keselowski the lead for the final restart on lap 348. Once in the lead, he drove away from Larson and teammate Joey Logano over the final 19 laps, officially capturing his first Darlington victory by 1.224 seconds Keselowski also scored a weekend sweep at Darlington following his NASCAR XFINITY Series win yesterday.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew. We were running second and that last stop they nailed it and got us out in the lead. I thought Kyle (Larson) was really good, and he was flat-out flying. I know how it goes. In 2015 we led a bunch of laps and lost it on the last pit stop and today my team won it on the last pit stop. Then it was just about me hitting all my marks and not screwing it up. How cool is this winning in Rusty Wallace’s Throwback car, the Southern 500, Throwback Weekend. It’s probably the biggest win of my career, especially with it being a weekend sweep at one of the toughest tracks on the circuit, and today was no different. So I’m just really, really thankful of the team effort that it took to win this race. That last pit stop put me in position. Of course we had to capitalize on it, but we were in position, and the pit crew nailed it. I got a great launch out of the pit box. I couldn’t have beat Larson by more than a foot. I knew if we could get out front, we were really strong on the short runs, not as strong as he was on the long runs, but I knew if we could get out front there with 20 or so to go that we could drive away. I was just praying every lap there wouldn’t be a caution. We were setting sail, and just please, no caution, please, no caution, and it came through for us.”