Brad Keselowski earned his first stage win of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) season on the way to a second-place finish in the Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang claimed his second top-five result in four races this season and his 11th top-10 finish in 16 career starts at Las Vegas. With Sunday’s result, Keselowski moved up to second in the NCS driver standings, now 38 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Keselowski passed Chase Elliott with two laps to go to win Stage 1 as he secured his first stage victory of the 2021 season. After starting 10th, the driver of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang moved into the top five just seven laps into the race. Only two cautions slowed the pace in the first 80-lap segment, which featured entertaining two and three-wide racing among the leaders. Keselowski raced Elliott for the lead during the final 10 laps of the stage and took over the top spot two laps from the finish. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to pit for four tires during the stage caution and Keselowski restarted second on lap 87.
On the restart, Keselowski once again grabbed the lead but as the stage advanced, the handling of the Discount Tire Ford Mustang became a little too free. The No. 2 Ford settled into fifth position when Keselowski made a scheduled pit stop under green on lap 123 for four tires and a trackbar adjustment. After the stops cycled through, Keselowski was once again in the second position with a free-handling car. He finished second when segment ended on lap 160. The Discount Tire Ford took on four tires during the stage caution and restarted seventh when the race went green on lap 167.
Keselowski remained in contention over the final 100 laps of the race. He ran in second place on lap 216, just behind leader Kyle Larson. The two leaders pitted under the green flag on lap 225 for four tires and when the cycle was complete, Keselowski was once again in second position. Try as he might over the closing laps, Keselowski couldn’t track down the leader as he took the checkered flag in second place.
“We had a great Discount Tire Ford Mustang,” said Keselowski. “If Kyle Larson wasn’t here, we’d have had a dominant day, but they were really strong. He’s got some really good equipment now and he’s going to keep showing it I’m sure.”