Brad Keselowski led laps and won a stage on his way to an 11th-place finish in the Fanshield 500 Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway. The driver of the Alliance Parts Ford Mustang climbed up two positions in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings and now sits in 10th position, 46 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started 14th and struggled in Stage 1 with a Mustang that was too tight in the corners. He was sixth on the restart following the first caution when Denny Hamlin got loose underneath him in turns 3 and 4. The two made contact, sending the No. 2 Mustang for a slow spin. Fortunately, there was no significant damage to Keselowski’s Ford. He made two pit stops for minor repairs and one for right-side tires during the caution and was credited with a 32nd-place finish when the stage ended on lap 75. Keselowski didn’t pit during the stage caution and restarted 10th when the race went green on lap 84.
The Alliance Parts Mustang came to life in Stage 2. Keselowski climbed to second position when he pitted during the fourth caution on lap 133 for four tires. He returned to the track in second-position and grabbed the lead on lap 156 and never looked back, winning his first stage of the season. He pitted during the stage caution on lap 194 for tires and a chassis adjustment and restarted as the race leader on lap 199, holding the top spot until he pitted during the sixth caution on lap 216.
The balance on the No. 2 Mustang was too tight early in final stage but Keselowski hung on to third position. He took the lead on lap 268 when the leaders pitted and he stayed on the track. Keselowski was leading when the race went green on lap 288 but was shuffled back to third when a caution came out on lap 305. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Keselowski made the call to pit for four tires on lap 306, hoping the fresher tires would be an advantage in the closing laps. He restarted 16th and was able to scramble through the field to claim an 11th-place finish when the race ended on lap 316.
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