Brad Keselowski led three different times for a combined 19 laps, won stage two and was in prime position for the finish in Sunday night’s race from Atlanta Motor Speedway, but an incoming band of storms ultimately paused the action not far into stage three, and it never resumed from there with the Castrol Edge Ford finishing sixth.
“It was a good day,” Keselowski said. “We were right where we needed to be, but didn’t get the breaks we needed. I was really happy with our performance and quality of the cars we had. My teammate, Chris Buescher, did a good job, but just didn’t catch the breaks we needed at the end.”
The threat of rain resulted in the field racing as if it were the last lap, for multiple laps, through much of the 185 laps that were completed. After finishing the first stage in 24th, the No. 6 began the second stage of 100 laps from near the tail end of the field.
From there he methodically worked his way through the field, advancing into the top-10 by lap 123 when the race’s fifth yellow was displayed. He and teammate Chris Buescher were inside the top-5 together on the ensuing restart as Keselowski took the lead for the first time on lap 137. He led three different times in a stretch of 23 laps, winning stage two under caution.
Facing the need for fuel, and incoming rain, the field was faced with a big decision in the stage two break. Keselowski needed fuel to make it on the long run and pitted for four fresh tires and fuel. That put him 17th on the next restart at lap 164.
The seventh and final caution waved with 82 to go with Keselowski scored sixth. Light rain began to fall under the extended yellow, which ultimately sent the race to a red flag, before NASCAR deemed it official not long after.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next, with race coverage next Sunday set for 2:30 p.m. ET on USA, with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.