Brad Keselowski did it exactly right this time and finally got that last-lap victory, winning in overtime Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Keselowski is the ninth driver to win through 10 NASCAR Cup races this season and avenged the embarrassing Team Penske gaffe in the season-opening Daytona 500 when he and teammate Joey Logano triggered a last-lap crash as Keselowski tried to pass Logano for the victory.
Keselowski led just one lap, the last one, in a race that featured 35 lead changes among 27 drivers.
“The whole race I had a couple opportunities to take the lead, but I just kept thinking, ‘Man, keep your car in one piece,’” Keselowski said.
Logano was involved in an airborne wreck and called on NASCAR to change to dangerous racing conditions at Daytona and Talladega.
“On one hand, I am mad about being in the crash and on the other, I am happy to be alive,” Logano said. “On another hand, I am wondering when we are going to stop because this is dangerous doing what we are doing. I got a roll bar in my head. That is not OK. I am one hit away from the same situation Ryan Newman just went through. I just don’t feel like that is acceptable.”
Newman escaped serious injury racing for the win on the final lap of the 2020 Daytona 500.
The victory, Keselowski’s sixth at Talladega, came after team owner Roger Penske pulled the three Team Penske drivers and affiliate Matt DiBenedetto onto a call this week to discuss his expectations on how they should race Sunday. Penske refused to accept another Daytona disaster when Logano or Keselowski should have won the race but instead of working together the two triggered a fiery crash that also collected a third Penske car.
William Byron was second, Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell third and Kevin Harvick a season-high fourth.
DiBenedetto, who led 28 laps, finished fifth but gave away the win with a late lane change that allowed to Keselowski to surge to the front.
Ford drivers took four of the top five spots.
Kaz Grala finished a career-best sixth and was followed by Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon in a trio of Chevrolets.
Ford drivers took spots nine through 13 and the highest finishing Toyota driver was Christopher Bell in 17th.
Keselowski tied Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon with six wins each at Talladega.
“I would have never dreamed I’d tie Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. here,” he said. “That’s something. Those guys are really legends.”
Rick Ware Racing had originally planned to enter Jennifer Jo Cobb for her first career Cup start, but NASCAR last week ruled the veteran driver was not eligible.
Had she been cleared to compete, Cobb would have been the first female to race at NASCAR’s top level since Danica Patrick in 2018.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said before the race the competition department decided Cobb “did not have the experience necessary in order to run in the Cup race.”
Cobb has 217 career starts in the Truck Series and 31 in the Xfinity Series. She has one career top-10 finish.
William Byron picked up his second straight top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Logano was another victim of Talladega and speedway racing, even if it was through no fault of him. But he came in with a win and sixth- and third-place finishes in the last three races.
The series heads to Kansas Speedway, where Denny Hamlin has won the last two races.