Brad Keselowski can now call himself the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ first repeat winner of the year, as the No. 2 Team Penske driver edged Kyle Busch to claim the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.
From Brad Keselowski winning STP 500 and celebrating Team Penske’s anniversary in style, here are the five things we learned from NASCAR’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Martinsville’s 7o years old half-mile paperclip-shaped short track confines typically ratchet up the intensity of racing, but the advent of stage racing added a new element this time around. With two predetermined caution periods and bonus points in the offing at the end of the opening two stages, the racing got increasingly chippy as those race segments wound down.
Traffic jams for position marked the end of the opening 130-lap stage, then a high-profile clash involving leader Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. provided a spicy highlight in the second 130-lap leg.
Roger Penske celebrated Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway by checking a handful of historic moments off the to-do list, both for his race team and his manufacturer, Ford.
Brad Keselowski ends Ford drought with Martinsville Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. On the occasion of Team Penske’s 1,000th race in NASCAR’s premier series, Brad Keselowski clinched the organization’s first Martinsville win since 2004 and brought Ford its first trip to the short track’s Victory Lane. With Ford Motor Company board member Edsel Ford II serving as the race’s honorary pace car driver, it made the manufacturer’s celebration all the sweeter.
Keselowski’s victory moved him to the head of the table among early contenders for the series crown.
Season trophies, however, aren’t handed out in April. But six races in, Keselowski has already crossed two tracks off the list of places where he hasn’t won — Atlanta being the other — which has to make some sort of statement.
After six races, Chase Elliott has three top-five finishes and is second in points. His three Hendrick Motorsports teammates — Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — have combined for exactly one top five in a collective 18 starts.
Elliott is supremely talented, as right now, he has more points after six races than Johnson and Earnhardt combined.
More short tracks
NASCAR needs more short tracks. Short-track racing is NASCAR’s roots and it’s still electrifying to watch drivers trade paint, rough each other up a little and have to pass under claustrophobic conditions.
Short-track racing is fun because it puts control back into the driver’s hand — whoever has the skill and the grit and the balls will take the lead in the game.