Brad Keselowski scored a 13th-place finish in the South Point 400 Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Autotrader Ford is third in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, 45 point behind leader Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski started 12th and, from the drop of the green, had his hands full with the handling on the Autotrader Ford. He was 13th at the time of the competition caution on lap 25 and pitted during the yellow for four tires and chassis adjustments to aid his loose-handling Mustang. Keselowski wrestled the balance on his No. 2 Ford and by the end of the segment, he was tight off the corners and was credited with a 21st-place finish when the stage ended on lap 80. He pitted during the stage caution for four tires and air pressure adjustments and restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 86.
The adjustments by crew chief Jeremy Bullins improved the handling on the Autotrader Ford early in the run, but as the laps ticked off Keselowski said the balance began to fade and he got tighter with each passing lap. He was one of the final cars to pit when a cycle of green-flag stops began on lap 117 and was credited with leading two laps. Keselowski finished 13th when Stage 2 ended on lap 160. Once again, he pitted during the stage caution for four tires and adjustments and restarted 14th.
In Stage 3, Keselowski consistently ran inside the top-10 as the sun went down and the track cooled. But he was zapped by the timing of the fifth caution on lap 237, which waved just four laps after he made a scheduled stop under green, trapping him a lap down. After taking the wave around with the rest of the leaders, he restarted 16th on lap 242 and had once again worked his way up to eighth position when the final caution of the race on lap 262 pushed the finish of the event into NASCAR Overtime. The chaotic three-lap dash to the finish worked against Keselowski, who chose the bottom lane for the restart. Traffic stacked up three- and four-wide and Keselowski was shuffled back to 13th-place at the checkered flag.
“Not the night we wanted with the Autotrader Ford, but it could have been a lot worse. It’s frustrating but we certainly still not out of it. We still have a pretty good points cushion so we’re going to try to get through these next two weeks and put up a good race and build ourselves a cushion.”