Keselowski Flirts With Victory, Comes Up Just Short At Atlanta; Late Accident Spoils Buescher’s Strong Run
Story By: BRANDON LEE / RFK RACING – HAMPTON, GA – Brad Keselowski led the field in the closing moments of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The driver/owner of the King’s Hawaiian Ford Mustang led 47 laps in the 260-lap event, including 28 of the final 29.
Chris Buescher had a fast No. 17 Violent Defense Ford for Sunday’s race, staring seventh and running the majority of the race’s laps firmly inside the top 10.
Unfortunately he would get a caught up in a multi-car accident near the front of the pack on lap 189 and relegated to a 35th-place finish.
As cool as the crisp west Georgia afternoon, Keselowski held off a pack of charging Penske Fords for the final 25 laps, but despite the valiant effort from the NASCAR Champion, lost the lead as the field moved into turn three with just under half a mile left in the 400-mile event.
Keselowski and the No. 6 Team held on for the second-place finish, RFK’s best finish at the 1.5-mile track since 2010.
“A great run all-in-all for our RFK King’s Hawaiian Ford Mustang,” said Keselowski after the race. “We were right there. I’m glad a Ford won and it was a heck of a battle. I’m proud of my team and the effort, just not much we could do there at the end.
“It’s night and day from where we were a year ago, 100 percent,” added an optimistic Keselowski. “You just keep running like this with good finishes and the wins will come.”
Keselowski started the day fourth based on Saturday’s strong effort in qualifying. He finished stage one in third position and moved to second as the field went green for stage two. After a green flag pit cycle the No. 6 King’s Hawaiian Ford finished the second stage sixth.
Keselowski took the lead for the first time on lap 209 and led the majority of the race’s final 50 laps. He appeared poised for the victory coming into the final lap, but was unable to hold off the charge from the No. 22 and his teammates.
“The bottom row came with a huge run,” said Keselowski. “I thought I had it blocked and Joey (Logano) just kept shaking and his car didn’t stall out. I couldn’t get the push down the back, but it was still a great run for our team and something we’ll continue to build on until we get there. We are getting really close.”
Keselowski, who has now led in all five races this season, moved up to fifth in the Cup point standings, one point behind fourth and 17 outside of first place.
Late Accident Spoils Strong Performance for Buescher at Atlanta
Buescher had battled back from a pit-road speeding penalty, moving from 28th to third in just under 20 laps, before getting caught up in the wreck.
“First off, our Violet Defense Ford Mustang was really fast and I’m proud of everybody for that,” said Buescher. “I made a mistake on pit road by getting a speeding penalty and that put us back in the field. We drove back up to third. The speed was there and we were doing it without unnecessary pushes in the center of the corner. I haven’t seen a replay to know exactly what happened, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling.”
Buescher finished the first stage in eighth and moved into the top five during the second stage, working with teammate Brad Keselowski. After a green flag pitting sequence, he finished stage two in ninth, but was flagged with a pit road speeding penalty and forced to restart in 28th.
Buescher quickly went to work on the field, powering his Ford back inside the top-15 in just under 10 laps, before moving inside the top five when he was claimed in the day’s first big wreck of the race.
Keselowski, Buescher and the RFK Racing team return to action next weekend at a road course in Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Race coverage on Sunday is set for 3:30 p.m. on FOX. Radio coverage can be heard on PRN and SiriusXM Channel 90.