Suffering from the effects of a stomach bug, Brad Keselowski held off a charging — and determined — Martin Truex Jr. in the closing minutes of the 325-lap Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and powered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford across the finish line .218 seconds ahead of Truex’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
The victory was Keselowski’s first of the season and the first for the new Ford Mustang in the Cup series. The 2012 champion won for the second time at Atlanta and for the 60th in Roger Penske equipment (all series combined), breaking a tie with the late Mark Donohue.
Despite his illness, Keselowski was satisfied.
“I think any win means a lot, but that’s a big number,” Keselowski said. “Now I get to wear that yellow Mark Donohue helmet, so here we go — we’re going to wear it next week.
Kyle Busch’s reign as the ultimate NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series competitor reached a new level on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After leading a race-high 92 of 130 laps in Saturday’s Ultimate Tailgating 200, Busch recorded his record 52nd career Truck Series victory in dominant fashion. The owner of his eponymous team, Busch beat Johnny Sauter by .932 seconds following a five-lap dash to the finish.
Busch’s victory, which saw the series veteran pass Ron Hornaday for the No. 1 spot in wins, also marked his 195th triumph across all three major NASCAR national touring series. Grant Enfinger followed Busch and Sauter across the line in third with Brett Moffitt fourth and Ben Rhodes fifth.
Ross Chastain finished sixth with last week’s winner, Austin Hill – a Winston, Georgia, native – seventh. Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Timothy Peters rounded out the top 10.
“It’s certainly a big deal for me and for our team. (Crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) and these guys prepare some awesome trucks and it’s awesome to come out here and race with my own team,” said Busch. “To be able to go chase after records, that’s not what we’re out here to do – we’re here to go out, compete and win – but obviously everything that’s tallied up over the years has gotten us to this point. Today was really good. Our truck was awesome. It was really flying out there.”
Christopher Bell had no equal on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Xfinity race.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver swept all three stages of the Rinnai 250, leading 142 of 163 laps in securing a convincing victory in the second race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Bell – considered one of the series’ foremost championship contenders – wasted little time in asserting his dominance.
Despite starting third, Bell roared to the lead on Lap 1 of Saturday’s event. He paced the field for much of the afternoon and appeared to have victory in hand before a late caution flag saw the lead cars head to pit road, change tires and gear up for a three-lap assault.
Jeffrey Earnhardt – Bell’s teammate at JGR – lined up on the outside of the front row beside Bell for the final restart, but Bell had the preferred inside line. Bell had the momentum as well, as he rocketed away on the restart and held off a charge from runner-up Cole Custer to score his first win of the season.
Justin Allgaier’s Chevrolet finished third with Brandon Jones and defending series champion Tyler Reddick completing the top five. Earnhardt was sixth with Ryan Preece seventh, Justin Haley eighth, Noah Gragson ninth and Austin Cindric 10th.
The Atlanta NASCAR Weekend always peaks to a spectacular crescendo with the main event of the three-race showcase: the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. This year, it was equally exciting across all three races.