Speeding Penalties play in Keselowski's favor at Atlanta

Keselowski displays the American Flag after a win at Atlanta
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs

By Katy Lindamood

Kevin Harvick dominated Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway leading 293 laps on route to a ninth place finish.

Keselowski and his daughter Scarlett in the media center at Atlanta
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
It  appeared Stewart-Haas Racing was destined for victory lane for the second consecutive week but a late-race speeding penalty put an end to that dream. With 15 laps to go Austin Dillon suffered an issue with his battery bringing out a caution. Harvick led the field down pit road, exiting first...then those dreaded words,”Penalty No.4, too fast on pit road.”

That was all Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski needed to make a run. Larson appeared to have the advantage until Keselowski passed him on the bottom of the track and pulled away.

It was a race where speeding violations were plentiful. Thirteen penalties were given for the infraction, including two for the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth. Fortunately, Kenseth’s penalties occurred early enough in the race that he had time to bounce back and finish third behind Larson.

Tire issues plagued teams with several drivers having to make unscheduled stops for replacements. Among those with difficulties were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Blaney. Earnhardt Jr. also had one of those speeding penalties.

Tires and speeding weren’t the only culprits playing havoc. Richard Childress Racing drivers Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon had problems with their batteries. Newman spent time in the garage making repairs but was able to return to the track. Because the issue was mechanical it was not subject to the five-minute clock enforced against race-damaged vehicles. Denny Hamlin, who started his 400th MENCS race, dropped out early due to a rear end issue in the No. 11.

Although Harvick didn't pull off the win, he did earn coveted playoff points by winning Stages 1 and 2 and leads the point standings by four over teammate Kurt Busch. 

Keselowski's win is his 22nd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. 

The No. 2 team endured tire problems and an additional trip down pit road for loose lugnuts. Crew chief Paul Wolfe said, "Brad just drove a smart race...it's easy to get down when you have issues like we did, but he just stayed focused all day." 

The final running order:
  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Chase Elliott
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Martin Truex Jr.
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10. Jamie McMurray
  11. Clint Bowyer
  12. Trevor Bayne
  13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  14. Erik Jones
  15. Ty Dillon
  16. Kyle Busch
  17. Danica Patrick
  18. Ryan Blaney
  19. Jimmie Johnson
  20. Cole Whitt
  21. Daniel Suarez
  22. Landon Cassill
  23. David Ragan
  24. Chris Buescher
  25. Paul Menard
  26. AJ Allmendinger
  27. Aric Almirola
  28. Matt DiBenedetto
  29. Michael McDowell
  30. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  31. Reed Sorenson
  32. Austin Dillon
  33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  34. Corey LaJoie
  35. Ryan Newman 
  36. Derrike Cope
  37. Gray Gaulding
  38. Denny Hamlin
  39. Cody Ware
Speeding Penalties play in Keselowski's favor at Atlanta Speeding Penalties play in Keselowski's favor at Atlanta Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Sunday, March 05, 2017 Rating: 5