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 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.
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.
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 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.