Brad Keselowski wins at Darlington Raceway, ending his 3-year NASCAR win drought

Brad Keselowski moved to the front when Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick hit each other with nine laps left and held on to win the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday
Driver Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Driver Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — There were so many special parts of Brad Keselowski's first NASCAR victory in three years, it was difficult for him to say what meant the most.

It was the 36th of his career and his second at Darlington Raceway, which he reveres as an ultimate test of drivers. It came in front of his young family with daughters, Scarlett who'll turn 9 later this month and 4-year-old Autumn, joining him on the podium.

And it was his first since leaving the Penske organization to become co-owner at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in 2022.

“There’s a lot of things to be excited about, don’t know which one means the most,” Keselowski said with a smile.

He moved to the front when leaders Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick hit battling for first with nine laps left and held on to win the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday for his first NASCAR win in three years.

“Hell of an effort by everyone,” Keselowski said after crossing the finish line.

It appeared Keselowski’s employee at RFK, Buescher, would get the win after he passed his boss and Reddick with 29 laps to go. But Buescher and Reddick then hit and fell back, opening the door for Keselowski’s satisfying victory.

“What a heck of a day,” he said. “That battle out there with my teammate and Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all on the line.”

Keselowski acknowledged the risk he took when he left Penske. Fans got on him, he said, when Austin Cindric won the 2022 Daytona 500 that it could've been him or when Penske drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney won the past two NASCAR Cup Series crowns.

But he could not be happier with his choice and the direction RFK is headed.

“I think you guys know, I'm going to do things my own way,” Keselowski said.

Ty Gibbs was second, Josh Berry third and Denny Hamlin fourth. Chase Briscoe was fifth followed by William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Justin Haley and Michael McDowell.

It was another near miss for Buescher, who lost by 0.001 seconds to Kyle Larson at Kansas in the closest finish in NASCAR history.

Buescher slid to 30th and Reddick 32nd.

Buescher confronted Reddick when both got out of their cars. Reddick took full blame for the incident.

“That’s two weeks in a row we had a shot to win races,” Buescher said. “One, I’m going to relive in my head forever at what I would’ve done different (at Kansas). The other, I need someone else to be more mature about it.”

Larson was in the top 10 when he spun out with 40 laps left and could not return.

BAD DAY

One slip up ended the chances of two NASCAR champions. Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Byron were three-wide on lap 128 when Byron tagged Truex who pushed into Blaney and sent him against the wall in turn two.

The crew for Blaney, the defending Cup Series champion, could not repair the damage and his day was done. He rode up alongside Byron to signal his displeasure with Byron’s move.

“He used a little bit more race track than I thought, so I have every right to be mad and he gets away scot-free,” said Blaney, who wound up last in 36th place.

Truex, the 2017 series champion, dropped from the top 10 and finished 25th.

ODDS AND ENDS

Berry's third place was his best showing since replacing retired Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 car. ... Erik Jones, twice a winner at Darlington, finished 19th his first time back in the car since suffering a compression fracture in a lower vertebra during a crash at Talladega last month. Jones missed races at Dover and Kansas. ... Larson's No. 5 paint scheme homage to Hall of Famer Terry Labonte's title-winning car from 1996 was voted the best throwback by the fans. ... The series takes a week off of points racing for the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro in North Carolina.

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AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/hub/nascar-racing

Tyler Reddick (45) leads a pack of cars to the green flag during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Brad Keselowski does a burnout after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Kyle Larson drives down the front stretch during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Driver Brad Keselowski holds up a trophy in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Joey Logano smiles prior to a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Driver Corey LaJoie is introduced to the crowd prior to a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Fans attend a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Driver Brad Keselowski, front left, celebrates alongside his family in Victory Lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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Brad Keselowski holds an American flag out of his window after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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The pit crew for Ross Chastain rush to complete a pit stop during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Darlington Raceway, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

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