Brad Keselowski rallied from a lap down to score a ninth-place finish in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sunday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The driver of the Autotrader Ford Mustang claimed his seventh top-10 of the 2020 season and his eighth in 12 career starts at Atlanta. With the finish, he moves up to fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, now 75 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started sixth Sunday and battled a loose-handling Mustang early in Stage 1. On lap 66, he made a scheduled green flag pit stop for four tires but was hit with a pit road speeding penalty, which dropped Keselowski down a lap and back to the 28th position. He moved up to 22nd when he caught a break in the form of the second caution on lap 96. Keselowski took the wave around and rejoined the tail end of the lead lap. When the segment ended on lap 105, Keselowski was running 21st in the field. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and a wedge adjustment and restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 112.
In Stage 2, Keselowski rallied from deep in the pack to lead the race. He sliced his way through traffic to move inside the top-10 by lap 142 and he grabbed lead on lap 160 during a cycle of green flag stops. The driver of the Autotrader Ford Mustang was credited with an eighth-place finish when the staged concluded on lap 210.
The final segment of the race began with Keselowski poised to score a top-five finish or better but it wasn’t meant to be. He was running fourth on lap 255, just 70 laps from the finish, but he was not able to get closer to the front. Keselowski made his final stop for four tires under the green flag on lap 269 and was ninth when the pit sequence was finished. As the race drew to a close, Keselowski was in hot pursuit of the eighth-place car driven by Chase Elliott, but he ran out of laps to make a move for position and finished in ninth place.
“In the middle of the race I felt our Autotrader Ford Mustang was right there with the 4 car (Kevin Harvick),” said Keselowski. “I feel like he was pretty good right there at the end. It just didn’t come together for us today. Sometimes you run these races and you don’t have any practice and you’re like ‘perfect, don’t change a thing,’ and then sometimes you run ‘em and you don’t have practices and you say man, if I just had one practice I could have dialed it in a little bit better. Some lessons learned and we’ll apply them and move forward.”