ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Results and 3 takeaways from the Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas

Brad Keselowski takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Brad Keselowski takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. AP

Brad Keselowski won the South Point 400 on Sunday, his third victory this season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

1. What has gotten into Brad Keselowski?

It was impressive enough when Brad Keselowski won his first race of the season two weeks ago at Darlington –his team was perfect on pit road, and they gave him enough of a margin to pull away on a restart.

Then it was even more incredible when he won last week at Indy, which he also had never done before.

But to now have won three straight races, without ever having the best car? Keselowski is undoubtedly NASCAR’s hottest driver right now, and while the momentum will eventually cede, it’s a dang sight to behold for the time being.

2. We’ve had the Big 3... Should it be the Big 4 now?

There were rumblings about this on social media after the race, and for good reason. Keselowski’s third win now separates him from Clint Bowyer and his two, and it’s only natural given NASCAR’s playoff format to want to group him in with the Big 3 of Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick.

If Keselowski wins another, does that put him on the same par with Truex and his four victories?

We’re not quite at that point yet, as Keselowski’s one three-race stretch shouldn’t outweigh an entire season of success for Truex, but he has absolutely separated himself from the pack and should be considered the favorite for that fourth championship spot at Homestead in November.

3. Wrecks ruin a few playoff debuts.

Not the start to the postseason that Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, or a number of other playoff drivers were hoping for.

Given the elimination format of NASCAR’s new playoff system, a single-car crash like Erik Jones had, for example, can be enough to spiral someone down the playoff rankings.

One race isn’t going to torpedo anyone, especially not someone like Harvick, but it absolutely makes the next two races more of an uphill climb. That, and if we’re in the business of talking about momentum, a DNF in the playoff opener is about the last thing you want to have happen.

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

South Point 400

Sunday

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Las Vegas

Lap length: 1.5 miles

St

Driver

Car

Laps

*

1

13

Brad Keselowski

Ford

272

2

11

Kyle Larson

Chevrolet

272

3

10

Martin Truex Jr.

Toyota

272

4

2

Joey Logano

Ford

272

5

6

Ryan Blaney

Ford

272

6

16

Aric Almirola

Ford

272

7

4

Kyle Busch

Toyota

272

8

19

Daniel Suarez

Toyota

272

9

22

Ryan Newman

Chevrolet

272

10

20

Paul Menard

Ford

272

11

18

Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

272

12

25

Regan Smith

Chevrolet

272

13

23

Trevor Bayne

Ford

272

14

29

AJ Allmendinger

Chevrolet

272

15

28

Chris Buescher

Chevrolet

272

16

32

Corey LaJoie

Chevrolet

272

17

36

JJ Yeley

Toyota

272

18

37

Landon Cassill

Chevrolet

272

19

9

Alex Bowman

Chevrolet

271

20

34

Ross Chastain

Chevrolet

271

21

8

Kurt Busch

Ford

271

22

17

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

270

23

15

Clint Bowyer

Ford

270

24

26

Matt DiBenedetto

Ford

269

1

25

35

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Toyota

269

26

33

Kyle Weatherman

Chevrolet

269

27

27

David Ragan

Ford

268

28

38

BJ McLeod

Ford

268

29

24

Michael McDowell

Ford

265

2

30

14

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ford

251

2

31

40

Reed Sorenson

Chevrolet

246

32

3

Denny Hamlin

Toyota

245

2

33

39

Timmy Hill

Toyota

231

34

30

Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

218

2

35

12

Jamie McMurray

Chevrolet

211

2

36

7

Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

211

2

37

21

William Byron

Chevrolet

210

2

38

31

Bubba Wallace

Chevrolet

164

3

39

5

Kevin Harvick

Ford

147

2

40

1

Erik Jones

Toyota

147

2

Reason out: 1–DVP; 2–accident; 3–front hub

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 111.849 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 28 minutes, 15 seconds. Margin of Victory: 1.276 seconds.

Caution Flags: 12 for 59 laps.

Lead Changes: 23 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: 0; J. Logano 1-33; K. Harvick 34-37; Kyle Busch 38; D. Hamlin 39; R. Smith 40-49; K. Harvick 50-59; M. Truex Jr. 60-112; B. Keselowski 113-124; M. Truex Jr. 125-150; B. Keselowski 151-161; J. McMurray 162-166; K. Larson 167-177; B. Keselowski 178-183; K. Larson 184; B. Keselowski 185-201; M. Truex Jr. 202-218; B. Keselowski 219-221; J. Logano 222-234; B. Keselowski 235-237; K. Larson 238-239; B. Keselowski 240; K. Larson 241-250; B. Keselowski 251-272.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): M. Truex Jr. 3 times for 96 laps; B. Keselowski 8 times for 75 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 46 laps; K. Larson 4 times for 24 laps; K. Harvick 2 times for 14 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 10 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 5 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

  Comments