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Brad Keselowski Holds Off Chase Elliott to Win NASCAR at Martinsville

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 24, 2019

Brad Keselowski (2) leads Chase Elliott (9) as they drive into Turn 4 during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Steve Helber/Associated Press

Brad Keselowski led for 446 of 500 laps en route to winning the STP 500 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.

Keselowski held off Chase Elliott, who led 49 laps and finished second, for the win.

Kyle Busch took third on the .526-mile track, which is the shortest on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit.

Here's a look at the top-10 results as well as highlights and reaction.

     

Top 10 Results

1. Brad Keselowski

2. Chase Elliott

3. Kyle Busch

4. Ryan Blaney

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Kevin Harvick

7. Clint Bowyer

8. Martin Truex Jr.

9. Aric Almirola

10. Daniel Suarez

Full results can be found on NASCAR.com.

       

Keselowski Dominates Martinsville

Keselowski earned his second win of the season in dominant fashion.

He passed pole-winner Joey Logano after six laps and was in first for 89 percent of the race. Dustin Long of NBC Sports put Keselowski's day in an historical perspective:

Dustin Long @dustinlong

#NASCAR ... @Brad @keselowski led 446 laps in his win today at @MartinsvilleSwy That's the most laps led in a Cup race since @NASCARonNBC's @kylepetty led 484 at Rockingham in his win there in October 1992.

Keselowski also set a record for the most laps led at Martinsville in the NASCAR modern era, per NASCAR Alerts:

NASCAR Alerts @NASCAR_Alerts

.@keselowski's 446 laps led is also the most laps led for a @MartinsvilleSwy race win in NASCAR's modern era. #STP500 | #NASCAR

His crew deserves much credit as well, a point noted by NASCAR Twitter:

NASCAR @NASCAR

How about some 👏 for @keselowski's crew, getting the No. 2 car out first once again. Leaderboard: https://t.co/E31gmPYmyd https://t.co/rF9GxceF1h

Naturally, a celebration needed to ensue, and Keselowski performed one with an epic blowout:

Team Penske @Team_Penske

THAT. BURNOUT. 🇺🇸 @keselowski | @DrawTiteHitches https://t.co/dTwCuYTcwe

Racing writer Jeff Gluck put a bow on the winner's afternoon:

Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck

That’s Brad Keselowski’s second win of the season, second career at Martinsville, 29th of his Cup Series career. What an ass-kicking today.

        

Chase Elliott Holds Off Kyle Busch for 2nd, But Busch Still No. 1 in Standings

The 23-year-old Elliott has racked up three top-10 finishes in the Monster Energy Cup standings over the past three years, and he's going to make it four-for-four if he continues to drive like he did on Sunday.

Elliott proved to be Keselowski's biggest threat, even taking the lead at one point. While he didn't end up winning, Elliott did hold off the early Monster Cup Series champion favorite in Busch for second.

He almost didn't even make it that far, however, as Elliott nearly got into a wreck with Jeb Burton in the No. 52 car in Stage 1:

NASCAR @NASCAR

A close call for the second-place car, @chaseelliott! 📺: @FS1 | @MartinsvilleSwy https://t.co/A9NDtnkXcK

Per Kelly Crandall of RACER, Elliott assumed Burton would let him through:

Kelly Crandall @KellyCrandall

There are 36 cars here at Martinsville, no big surprises. Jeb Burton in the 52 for rick Ware. DJ Kennington in the 77 for Spire #NASCAR

There was no harm, though, and Elliott eventually took a brief lead from Keselowski following a restart:

NASCAR @NASCAR

Take a look at the pass on @keselowski by @chaseelliott following the restart. 📺: @FS1 | @MartinsvilleSwy https://t.co/YRYwXLd4Cs

He did fall back to second and did an excellent job holding off Busch to stay there:

NASCAR @NASCAR

.@chaseelliott and @KyleBusch battle briefly, but the No. 9 car clears him. Now he's tracking down @keselowski out front with 114 laps to go on @FS1. https://t.co/9BHzUytC0F

However, Busch eventually took second, forcing Elliott to make a move to regain a top-two position. After a late-stage restart, Elliott did so:

NASCAR @NASCAR

The time to wait is over. @chaseelliott goes around @KyleBusch. Don't miss this finish on @FS1! https://t.co/QrHzvECV3f

The race marks Elliott's first top-five finish of the year.

Busch may have not won, but he registered another excellent 2019 performance. He entered Sunday first in the Monster Cup standings, and he'll stay there after finishing third at Martinsville.

He's already earned two wins, five top-five finishes and six top-10 results in six races. Busch is also No. 1 in stage wins with four. 

Matt Weaver of Autoweek captured a post-race interview Busch held with reporters, and he gave heavy credit to his crew chief Adam Stevens and his team for the performance:

Matt Weaver @MattWeaverAW

Kyle Busch says it was a better day than it should have been. Rowdy says if you don't make a pass in the first five laps of a run, you have to wait until 65 laps into a run for tire degradation to kick in for passes to take place. https://t.co/q7S19TcOgI

At this rate, Busch will be named NASCAR's champion for the second time in five years.

              

What's Next?

The O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 is next on the schedule at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Start time is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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