Keselowski made Rained Delayed Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400 a Thriller
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Rain washed out the entire NASCAR race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Brad Keselowski managed to make the best of it by winning his second race in a row. Both the Xfinity Series race and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events were pushed to Monday following a weekend filled with rain caused by the remnants of a tropical storm working its way across the interior of the country.
That delay set the table for a thrilling doubleheader on Monday for both series. Brad Keselowski made the best of fresher tires and the two lead cars battling it out in front of him to take advantage of the run and make an exciting pass for the win. Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske jumped from the eighth position to the third spot over the course of the last two cautions.
When the race restarted for the final time - Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, jumped out in front as Bowyer seemed to spin his tires. That opening gave Keselowski the green light he needed. He drove his car to the inside setting up a perfect angle on Hamlin for making the pass. However, Keselowski bobbled coming out of the turn giving Hamlin a bit of breathing room.
But, the Team Penske driver had fresher tires and he put them to work. By the time the two leaders had made their way down the backstretch the distance between Hamlin and Keselowski closed. Keselowski once again dove inside to make the pass while the two drivers traded paint several times. It would be Keselowski that stayed out in front when the checkered flag waved.
“Thanks, Ya’ll for staying – for being here. This is Indy this is awesome,” Keselowski said as he waved to fans that came back on Monday to watch the race. “To give Roger Penske his first Cup Series win at Indy is amazing.”
Hamlin Not Happy
Denny Hamlin was not happy with his finish following the race. The driver saw a potential win fade into a third-place run. He voiced his frustration during a post-race interview when he was commenting on the wreck that brought out the final caution of the day. Jeffrey Earnhardt and Landin Cassel crashed hard into the outside wall which required several laps to clean up.
Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer had been battling during the final stage with Hamlin winning the lead following a round of pit stops. Without the crash and caution, it looked as if Hamlin could stroll his way to the win.
“It’s a caution caused by meaningless guys, laps down, wrecking… meaningless.”
Hamlin finished third behind Erik Jones who finished second. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five finishers.
Final Sixteen Championship Field Set
The regular season came to an end with the Brickyard race. Sixteen drivers have punched their tickets to race for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship which kicks off next weekend in Las Vegas. Kyle Busch was named the 2018 Regular Series Champion following the race.
“This is great - we get some bonus points – get to take some cool hardware home,” Busch said while gesturing towards the Regular Season Trophy. “It’s good but we’re still shooting for winning the bigger trophy at the end of the season.”
Here are the final sixteen drivers eligible to race for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
1. Kyle Busch 2. Kevin Harvick 3. Martin Truex Jr 4. Brad Keselowski 5. Clint Bowyer 6. Joey Logano 7. Kurt Busch 8. Chase Elliott 9. Ryan Blaney 10. Erik Jones 11. Austin Dillon 12. Kyle Larson 13. Denny Hamlin 14. Aric Almirola 15. Jimmie Johnson 16. Alex Bowman
Drivers Ryan Newman and Paul Menard failed to make the sixteen-driver list as they trailed behind Bowman for the final spot. Even though Martin Truex failed to finish the race due to a brake rotor failure, he was locked into battling for the Championship due to his multiple wins on the season.