Keselowski wins incident-free first stage at Michigan

Brad Keselowski picked up his fourth stage win of 2017.

Keselowski wins incident-free first stage at Michigan
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

The polesitter led 56 of 60 laps in the first segment. Keselowski held a .507-second lead over Harvick. Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10.

"It feels real good to be leading with 60 laps on the board there and also getting that playoff bonus point. That's not a bad thing, as you know," Keselowski said.

"We're fighting a little bit of everything. Actually, the biggest thing is debris. I got a pretty big early in the race that was really hurting. Hopefully, I didn't lose anything there. That's probably my biggest concern."

The Nos. 5 and 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevys started at the rear of the field for going to back up cars. Matt DiBenedetto was forced to the back for failing inspection multiple times.

Keselowski checked out in clean air on the first lap, Harvick fell in line in second followed by Logano, Elliott, Kenseth, Jones, Blaney, Busch, Hamlin and Truex. Johnson raced up to 32nd on the first lap with Kahne in tow.

After the first five circuits, Keselowski’s advantage was 1.064-seconds over Harvick. Logano, Elliott, Kenseth and Blaney held onto the top five. Harvick closed to within .087-seconds on Keselowski within five laps but the No. 2 Ford continued at the point.

Keselowski caught traffic after 15 laps, and Harvick continued to cut into the No. 2 car’s advantage. By Lap 20, Keselowski’s lead was .322-seconds over Harvick. Logano, Elliott, Kenseth, Jones, Truex, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 15. Kahne broke into the top-25 with Johnson one spot behind. 35 of 39 cars remained on the lead lap.

Keselowski started overheating 25 laps in. The team told Harvick of the issue. Truex passed Kenseth for eighth.

Halfway through the stage, Keselowski maintained a .223-second lead despite Logano, Elliott, Blaney, Jones, Truex, Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Hamlin rounded out the top 10. On Lap 31, Jones passed Blaney for fifth.

With the debris off of Keselowski’s grilled, he extended his lead by 1.115-seconds over Harvick. Logano was 5.8-seconds behind in third. Elliott, Jones, Truex, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Hamlin completed the top 10 with Kyle Larson running 11th.

On Lap 37, McMurray pitted with a vibration. Allmendinger also pitted.

Harvick cut Keselowski’s lead to 0.730 by Lap 40. Elliott pitted from fourth. Logano and Blaney came in on the next lap. Keselowski relinquished the lead to Jones to come in for service on Lap 42. He regained the point on Lap 47.

Once pit stops cycled out, Keselowski led followed by Harvick, Elliott, Logano, Truex, Blaney, Jones, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Larson, Hamlin, Bowyer, McMurray, Kurt Busch and Daniel Suarez. Truex passed Logano of fourth on Lap 50. Kesleowski held a half-second lead on Lap 51 — as he lapped Allmendinger to leave 25 cars on the lead lap.

Harvick trailed Keselowski by five car-lengths to determine the stage win. Elliott, Truex, Logano, Jones, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Blaney and Larson rounded out the top 10. On Lap 57, Larson and Hamlin moved by Blaney, who dropped to 11th. Jones passed Logano for fifth.

Kahne moved from the back of the field to finish 21st in Stage 1. Johnson was 23rd.

There were 24 cars on the lead lap after the first 60 laps.

Kyle Busch pitted from eighth while the pits were closed. Busch claimed he could not hear over the radio chatter.

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Truex wins Stage 2 over hard-charging Keselowski at Michigan

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