The Honor QuikTrip 500 is over, and Autotrader-sponsored driver Brad Keselowski is the winner. Keselowski won the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his Team Penske Ford, beating out Kyle Larson for the win by just a half-second.
Early on, the Honor QuikTrip 500 looked like it’d be an easy victory for Kevin Harvick, the veteran driver who led an impressive 292 of the race’s 354 laps. But on lap 311, Harvick was caught speeding in the pit lane — an infraction that sent him to the back of the pack. Keselowski took the lead on lap 319 and then retained it for the final six laps; enough to win the competitive race.
Keselowski was hardly a shoo-in to win the race, as he suffered some setbacks throughout the contest, including a return to pit row to re-tighten some lug nuts on lap 270, which moved him down the pack. But he fought back and capitalized on Harvick’s pit lane speeding penalty, which Larson described as a “Christmas present.”
“This one kind of fell in our lap at the end, and my team put it all together when it counted,” said Keselowski. “These races aren’t easy. They’re 500 miles, and a lot can happen.”
Keselowski, who has been racing for Penske throughout much of his career, comes from a racing family. His career highlight came in the 2012 Sprint Cup NASCAR series, when he won the Drivers’ Championship at the Ford EcoBoost 400 — the final race of the season. Although Keselowski finished 12th in last year’s Drivers’ Championship, his early win in Atlanta puts him in a strong position as this season gets underway.