Through the first two stages of Sunday night’s South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it you would have told me that Brad Keselowski would finish third when it was all said and done, I would have called you crazy.
But, you would have been right.
Keselowski, scored zero stage points through the first two stages and had a bad handling race car but still managed to earn his third straight top three finish on the 1.5-mile track and his ninth consecutive top seven there.
“Bad start tonight but good finish,” Keselowski said. “We weren’t driving very good at the start. Nothing I was doing was working. We were kind of bleeding positions and losing laps. The team worked on it really hard and got us back to a spot where we could almost steal a win – and I thought for a minute that we might be able to. Not the win we were looking for, but a lot of perseverance and proud of that, that we didn’t freak out.”
Keselowski is now +31 on the bubble with two races remaining in the first round. Sunday’s top five was his third in the last four races on the season as he’s also scored six top 10’s in his last eight overall.
His teammate Ryan Blaney is quietly getting the job done too. Blaney, sits +12 in the standings after earning his sixth top 10 finish in his last eight starts on the season too. He’d bring his No. 12 Ford home fifth on Sunday night.
“It was a long night for sure,” Blaney said. “We didn’t start very good. We started really tight and didn’t go anywhere and I was really worried. We took really big swings at it. We were on the really tight side and really loose side and a little bit of both. We couldn’t take off very fast. Other guys would take off really fast. At the end of a run we were really fast up by the wall but we just lost too much ground and then I just got tight there at the end. I might have been able to run third but the top two cars were in a league of their own, especially the 19 (Truex).”
Their teammate Joey Logano did the exact opposite of them. He started off great but lost the handle as the race went on. Logano, won the first stage and came home second in stage two but only ninth in the race. Still, he sits +48 in the points standings in third place.
“Our car was really fast in the heat of the day,” Logano said. “It was a rocket ship the first run, I won the first stage and felt like I should have won the second stage. … Frustrating because we had a fast car. I guess we scored a lot of points, so hopefully that kind of helps us in the next round. The ultimate goal is to win the championship so just frustrating when you have a very fast Mustang that was capable of winning. I definitely felt like we could run with those guys, but just too much damage and couldn’t get the speed back. … We’re in the hunt, I wouldn’t say we’re far out.”