Brad Keselowski took the lead on the final lap to earn an overtime win in the GEICO 500 Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. The victory marked the first of the 2021 season for Keselowski and his sixth triumph at the 2.66-mile Alabama superspeedway. Keselowski tied both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon for the most wins at the track with his 35th career Cup Series victory and he has now won at least one NASCAR Cup Series race in each of the past 10 seasons. Keselowski gained three positions in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings with Sunday’s finish, as he is now ranked sixth, 128 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Keselowski started 10th and surged back and forth in the lead draft throughout the opening stage of the race. The driver of the MoneyLion Ford Mustang narrowly avoided disaster late in the opening segment when teammate Joey Logano and Hamlin made contact on the backstretch as the opening segment drew to a close on lap 60. The No. 2 Mustang received only minor damage in the incident. Keselowski pitted three times during the stage caution for minor repairs and restarted 32nd when the race restarted on lap 66.
In Stage 2, Keselowski rallied back into contention. He worked his way up to ninth position by lap 83 and a well-executed green flag pit stop for fuel only by the No. 2 Crew on lap 92 kept their driver near the front of the lead draft. A caution on lap 105 set up an 11-lap dash to the finish of the segment. Keselowski restarted third and was just ahead of a multi-car accident triggered by Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. that forced the stage to end under the yellow flag on lap 120. He was credited with a second-place finish and after a round of pit stops and restarted in sixth place when the race returned to the green flag on lap 126.
Keselowski made one final surge to the front late in the race, which put him in position to win. He pitted on lap 173 for four tires and restarted 11th when the race went green three laps later. Keselowski steadily worked his way through traffic and the MoneyLion Ford was up to fifth place by lap 178. He ran in the third position on lap 185 when the seventh and final caution flag of the race flew on lap 186, which forced NASCAR overtime. The green flag waved on lap 189 and two laps later Keselowski was able to get past Matt DiBenedetto for the lead and he held on for the win.
“What an awesome day today to bring the MoneyLion Ford Mustang into victory lane,” said Keselowski. “The whole race I had a couple opportunities to take the lead, but I just kept thinking, ‘Man, keep your car in one piece.’ We’ve been so close here and it just didn’t seem to want to come together here the last few years and I’ve been on kind of a four-year drought here, but it’s nice to get number six. I would have never dreamed I’d tie Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. here. That’s something. Those guys are really legends. I’m just really proud of my team.”