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NASCAR | Brickyard 400

Brad Keselowski delivers Team Penske’s first Brickyard 400 win

NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) kisses the yard of bricks on the start/finish line after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Rob Baker)
Rob Baker/Associated Press
Brad Keselowski kisses the yard of bricks on the start/finish line of Indianapolis Motor Speedway after winning the Brickyard 400.

INDIANAPOLIS — Brad Keselowski snatched victory from Denny Hamlin in the final laps of the Brickyard 400 on Monday to give Roger Penske a sweep this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Will Power won the Indianapolis 500 in May for Team Penske’s 17th victory in that event. Despite all the organizational success at Indy, no Penske driver had been able to win NASCAR’s Brickyard 400.

Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
AJ Mast/Associated Press
Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Keselowski, an afterthought most of this season, used fresher tires and timely late cautions to put Penske in Victory Lane. Keselowski has now won two consecutive races headed into NASCAR’s playoffs. The victories are big ones, too: the Southern 500 last week at Darlington Raceway and now the Brickyard 400, two of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.

Brad Keselowski’s victory in the Brickyard 400, the first of his career, was his second crown jewel triumph after last week’s win at Darlington.
Rob Baker/Associated Press
Brad Keselowski’s victory in the Brickyard 400, the first of his career, was his second crown jewel triumph after last week’s win at Darlington.
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Keselowski and his No. 2 crew climbed the Indianapolis fence to celebrate, a move made famous by Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

In keeping with the Penske Racing tradition established by three-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves, Brad Keselowski climbs the fence after winning the Brickyard 400.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
In keeping with the Penske Racing tradition established by three-time Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves, Brad Keselowski climbs the fence after winning the Brickyard 400.
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Keselowski wasn’t a factor until two late cautions gave the 2012 series champion a chance to use fresher tires to chase down Hamlin. The race went green with three laps to go and Clint Bowyer, in second, spun his tires. Keselowski darted around Bowyer into second, then caught Hamlin. The two cars touched a handful of times as they raced for the lead, and Keselowski finally surged ahead with a little more than one lap remaining.

He won by 0.904 seconds over Erik Jones. Hamlin was third 1.703 seconds behind. The victory was the first for Ford at Indianapolis since 1999.

Steady rain for three days in Indianapolis washed out all activity surrounding NASCAR’s regular-season finale and Monday was a doubleheader with the Xfinity Series, won by Justin Allgaier, followed by the Brickyard. At stake was a wild-card slot in the 16-driver playoff field, available only to a first-time winner this season.

Jamie McMurray gave it a late go and challenged Bowyer for position on a restart with 12 laps remaining. McMurray couldn’t get past Bowyer, and Keselowski used the opportunity to pick off another spot and put himself in position to make a run.

This crash between Jeffrey Earnhardt (96) and Landon Cassill (00) derailed the hopes of race leader Denny Hamlin.
Mike Alley/Associated Press
This crash between Jeffrey Earnhardt (96) and Landon Cassill (00) derailed the hopes of race leader Denny Hamlin.
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Hamlin was frustrated by an accident between Landon Cassill and Jeffery Earnhardt with seven laps remaining that gave Keselowski a shot at the win.

‘‘Cautions killed us at the end,’’ Hamlin said.

Kyle Busch won the regular season championship and Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman claimed the final two open spots in the playoff field.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, will head into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after his team clinched the regular-season championship.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, will head into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after his team clinched the regular-season championship.

The other drivers competing for the championship: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Jones, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and Keselowski.

The playoffs begin next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 16-driver field for the NASCAR playofffs: (Back row, from left) Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr., and Austin Dillon. (Front row, from left) Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones.
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
The 16-driver field for the NASCAR playofffs: (Back row, from left) Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr., and Austin Dillon. (Front row, from left) Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Erik Jones.