Keselowski captures victory after speedy Harvick slowed

Written by Adrian Beecher
Hampton, GA- After battling all day, opportunity showed itself for Brad Keselowski at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, and waste the opportunity he did not.

Kevin Harvick started on the pole and dominated throughout the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, it looked as if he was a lock for victory. Then lap 311 of 325 came, and after suffering a speeding penalty on pit road, leading 292 of the laps in the race to this point and winning stage one, and two didn’t matter anymore all that much regarding victory.

The penalty forced Harvick to begin the restart in the back of the field. Now with the fastest car on the track at the back of the pack and just 14 laps to go, it set up a shootout for the win.

The top 3 in the restart was Kyle Larson out in front, then Matt Kenseth second, and Brad Keselowski in third. Larson maintained the lead on the restart. However, Kenseth was quickly overtaken by Keselowski.

So there it was, Keselowski chasing down Larson as they raced for what could be the last ever win on the current Atlanta Motor Speedway track surface. Larson said after the race that at the time he already knew his own weakness and was trying to find ways to seal off passing lanes for Keselowski.

“I’d spent a lot of time around him throughout the race, especially on the short runs he was better than I was, and he would always pass me in 1 and 2. I knew I was going to have to try and take his line away. I tried a few times, and he finally kind of guessed where I was going right one lap and got to my inside.” said Larson of Keselowski.

After Keselowski had made the pass on lap 319, it was a mad dash for the finish with Brad slowly pulling away from Larson. In the end, it was a Keselowski in the No. 2 Autotrader Ford by 0.564 seconds, claiming the 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 title.

Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the 2017 Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500. (Photo Credit: Terry Mosley / The SkyBoat)

As Keselowski paused ahead of his victory burnout, a crew member ran out an American Flag for the 33-year-old. Brad proceeded to burnout with the Red, White, and Blue proudly flying outside his driver window. He then drove into victory lane that had been laid out on the front stretch of the speedway with droves of fans on the track awaiting his arrival to claim his prize.

That prize, a trophy that truly embodies the American spirit, in a race dedicated to helping those that have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great Nation. With the base being a slick tire that represents the passion of veteran for the sport, the word’s “Fueling Their Dream'” representing the spirit of the sponsor’s dedication to give back to veterans. Also, all five branches are visible atop the base, two wings representing freedom coming together to form a “v” for victorious in the middle, the folded flag is in the middle of the wings as ultimate reminder of the sacrifice so many have given to make this nation what it is.

What brings the trophy all together is a replica barrel of an M61 “Vulcan” Cannon, a weapon that has been used in countless military engagements by US Forces since Vietnam. Thus proving to be a vital asset to protecting freedom.

The 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Trophy being set into place in victory lane for Brad Keselowski to claim as his and his teams own. (Photo Credit: Terry Mosley / The SkyBoat)
Keselowski was presented the trophy by Major Don Rooney, the founder, and CEO of the Fold of Honor organization, alongside QuikTrip CEO Chet Cadieux. A moment that is sure to stay with Keselowski for many years to come as Major Rooney told Keselowski “This is the most patriotic trophy in all of NASCAR.”

The military ties to Brad are well outlined and seemed fit in his winning. As revealed during the Fox broadcast and later addressed by a reporter post-race, Keselowski confirmed he had joining the military as a potential backup plan to racing.

“You never know in this life and in this career where it’s going to take you. I always wanted to be a racer, but you never knew, at least I never knew how it was going to play out, but I knew I probably wasn’t going to be anything normal, and that was‑‑ 8:00 to 5:00 isn’t really for me, so those type of things have always intrigued, and that would have certainly been a route, but I’m glad to be a race car driver and glad to have the opportunities I have to drive for a team that’s world class where we can win races year over year and contend like we have here today and to be able to have these amazing opportunities in my life. ”

Keselowski also reiterated his undying support for the US Military and his personal connection to the cause.

“I don’t really like to compare what I do to those that are in the military because they’ve made and continue to make incredible sacrifices and put their life out on the line. But I have tremendous respect for those that do. Our country is based on those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. I will always have respect for them. I’ve got a lot of family that either has served or is serving, and wishing them the best along with everyone else.”

It was the 22nd career victory for Keselowski and put him in the victory lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time. He now sits 3rd in points with 84 and 5 total playoff points. Kevin Harvick’s stage 1 and 2 victories and most laps led did, in the end, help him, putting him atop the points standings with 90 points and 3 total playoff points.

Next up, its week 3 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in a trip out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Kobalt 400.


The celebration ensues for Brad Keselowski and his team after winning 2017 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
(Photo Credit: SaJorden Miller / The SkyBoat)

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