NASCAR's 2019 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 results: Brad Keselowski overcomes illness for season's first win

As Wayne Gretzky most famously stated: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take" or in other words, you cannot succeed if you don't try. Brad Keselowski almost didn't suit up for Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway due to a stomach virus. He had a backup driver on standby. However, through the power of IV fluids and perseverance, Keselowski took his shot and got in the racecar.

He then went on to win the 2019 Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500.

Keselowski, a two-time winner at Atlanta, knew what was at stake going into it, tweeting before the race that he felt really good about his car right after an IV session.

That strong car -- and veteran, championship racing prowess -- came in handy when he held off Martin Truex Jr. in the final laps of a tight race before taking the checkered flag. Now Keselowski will have an opportunity to compete for another championship as the win punches his ticket to the NASCAR playoffs.

Kyle Larson held off Vegas-favorite Kevin Harvick in Stage 1, claiming his first green-and-white checkered flag of the season. The two battled it out again in Stage 2, but this time it was Harvick who earned a playoff point. Harvick finished the race fourth, while Larson -- the overall laps leader with 142 -- couldn't overcome a late race penalty and finished 12th.

2019 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 results

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Clint Bowyer
  6. Kyle Busch
  7. Erik Jones
  8. Aric Almirola
  9. Chris Buescher
  10. Daniel Suarez
  11. Denny Hamlin
  12. Kyle Larson
  13. Ryan Newman
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Alex Bowman
  16. David Ragan
  17. William Byron
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  19. Chase Elliott
  20. Daniel Hemric
  21. Austin Dillon
  22. Ryan Blaney
  23. Joey Logano
  24. Jimmie Johnson
  25. Ty Dillon
  26. Matt DiBenedetto
  27. Bubba Wallace
  28. Matt Tifft
  29. Corey LaJoie
  30. Parker Kligerman
  31. Ross Chastain
  32. BJ McLeod
  33. Cody Ware
  34. Landon Cassill
  35. Ryan Preece
  36. Garrett Smithley
  37. Michael McDowell

Stage 1: Larson and Almirola dominate

Aric Almirola started the race from the pole and had no problem pacing the field early while the rest of the pack maneuvered its way through. Kyle Busch started the race from the rear in a backup car but had no problems moving his way into contention as the leaders held firm.

Almirola led 35 of the first 36 laps before NASCAR waved a scheduled competition caution to allow crews to make adjustments due to rain on the track the night before. The No. 10 however was slow on exit from pit road, allowing Larson to restart from the lead. Larson had no problem doing what Almirola did on the first go around, leading in clean air. 

Despite starting in the middle of the pack, Kevin Harvick mounted his charge toward the lead in the final 15 laps of the stage. However, Larson was able to to drive on unchallenged and win the stage.

Stage 1 results:

  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Ryan Blaney
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  10. Clint Bowyer

Stage 2: Larson and Harvick battle it out

Harvick won the race off pit road between stages, while Almirola was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear. Joey Logano and Alex Bowman got tangled up exiting their stalls and lost considerable track position as well.

The No. 4 held serve despite a four-wide challenge on the restart. Martin Truex Jr. and Larson then began battling for second, with Larson eventually claiming the position. Harvick led 22 laps before getting loose and surrendering the lead back to Larson, who was gaining seconds each lap.

Larson pit from the lead for a scheduled stop 41 laps into the stage, with Harvick and the field following shortly after. The No. 42 quickly recycled to the lead, gaining about 1.5 seconds on Harvick who moved back to second. Kyle Busch missed the entrance to pit road and lost position during green flag stops. Brad Keselowski also lost time due to his team's jack breaking during his stop.

With 17 to go, the battle for the lead began ramping up between Harvick and Larson. The No. 42 rode its famed high line while the No. 4 stuck to the bottom. In this run, it was Harvick who came out on top as Larson's tires began to show a little wear. 

Stage 2 results

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Joey Logano
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Clint Bowyer

Final Stage: Keselowski comes out on top

Harvick won the race off pit road between stages and led the field to green to start the Final Stage. However it was Larson who controlled the restart -- another four-wide, exciting one -- and took the lead ahead of Kyle Busch and Truex with Harvick in fourth.

As Larson paced the field handily, Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin got green flag pit cycles going on Lap 220. Luckily for the No. 11 and unfortunately for teammate Kyle Busch, the No. 18 rubbed the wall, got a flat tire and brought the caution out shortly after Hamlin's stop. This allowed Hamlin to take the wave around and get back onto the lead lap.

Larson beat Harvick off pit road under yellow, however the No. 42 team was penalized for speeding. Larson had to restart from the rear of the field while Harvick and Ryan Blaney led the field to green.

The racing really picked up once Larson was kicked to the rear of the field. Blaney capitalized on the opportunity, taking the lead from Harvick as Truex moved into second. The No. 12 continued to run strong out front while Kyle Busch and Larson attempted to negotiate their way through the pack.

During that phase a pair of rookies, Daniel Hemric and Ryan Preece, along with Chris Buescher ran inside the top 10. All three had odds of 100-to-1 or worse entering the race. Buescher was a cheap option on DraftKings and had 300-to-1 odds to win.

Blaney and the leaders took a pit stop with 55 to go. While on pit road, Preece's strong run came to an end as he ran into the back of BJ McLeod upon leaving his stall. Preece said on the radio that he was distracted by his tachometer and it costed him a potential top 10 finish.

Truex also had issues on pit road, as he was (or wasn't) penalized for too many members over the wall. NASCAR, however, didn't move him to the rear of the field and he restarted fourth behind Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.

NASCAR explained the move after the race: 

Logano took control of the lead ahead of teammate Keselowski as the race entered its final 40 laps. After reports of a loose wheel from Logano, the No. 2 took over the lead. Shortly after surrendering the lead, Logano brought his No. 22 down pit road to take care of that loose wheel and eliminated himself from contention for the win.

Hemric, who was running inside the top 10, followed Logano down pit road a few laps later with reports of a tire going down. The rookie was making a run for his first career win in just his second Cup Series start in the No. 8 car.

As it came down to the wire, Keselowski was tailed by Truex, but he was able to hold off the No. 19 coming to the checkered flag and won the race by a small margin.  

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