KANSAS CITY, Kan.--Experience won out at Kansas Speedway as Brad Keselowski held off Alex Bowman and Erik Jones to win the Digital Ally 400 on Saturday.
The Penske team tightened up the No. 2 Ford and provided Keselowski with fresh tires for the end game. The car came alive over the final 25 laps.
Keselowski caught Bowman with six laps remaining and held on for his second win at the 1.5-mile track and his third victory in 2019.
“We were just too loose early and then in the traffic I brushed the wall a little bit and we couldn't get it tightened up,” Keselowski said. “Finally, with about 100 to go, Paul Wolfe (crew chief) and the team made some adjustments and the car responded.
“I felt we were a top-three or top-five car but then the yellow came out right as we came to pit road and I thought we would have to claw to get a top-10. We clawed and clawed and a couple of opportunities presented themselves and we were fighting for the lead.”
Keselowski held off Bowman by .205-seconds at the line for his 30th-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win.
“Alex Bowman ran an incredible race,” Keselowski said. “I feel kind of bad. I think I kind of stole one from him. He was one of the best cars, him and Kevin Harvick.
“We just had a little fresher tires and I was able to catch the traffic just right to make the move on him and from there we were able to get the win.”
Jones finished third followed by Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher.
Harvick won Stage 1 and led 54 of 80 laps. The action was slowed by a competition caution on Lap 30. With a two-tire stop, William Byron took the lead out of the pits. But it was short-lived when the race returned to green on Lap 36 as Bowyer blew by the No. 24 Chevy.
Harvick passed Bowyer for the lead on Lap 49 and held the point until the second caution triggered by Denny Hamlin’s spin from a flat right rear tire. While Harvick and most of the lead lap cars pitted, Elliott remained on the track and assumed the lead followed by Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Stenhouse, Buescher, Larson, Almirola and Ryan Blaney. Harvick lined up 10th for the Lap 65 restart but caught Elliott in five laps. Harvick regained the lead on Lap 73 and held on for the stage win.
Kurt Busch led the field to green for Stage 2 after a blistering two-tire stop by the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team. Joey Logano, who received damage just prior to the end of the stage, pitted just prior to green and dropped to 33rd.
Harvick powered by Busch in Turn 1 for the lead on Lap 92. Martin Truex Jr. was the first to make a green flag stop on Lap 121. Harvick came in for service on the next lap. Bowman led his first lap on Lap 124 during stops before turning the lead over to Chris Buescher. The No. 37 remained at the point for 10 laps before pitting.
Truex ran into the back of the No. 41 Ford as Daniel Suarez was attempting to pit on Lap 143. Elliott cycled out to the lead on Lap 145 and held on for the Stage 2 win followed by Harvick, Jones, Bowman, Stenhouse, Buescher, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Larson.
Harvick held serve through pit stops for the Lap 167 restart. He appeared to be en route to his first win of the season when he reported a problem with his car. A window tear-off sheet landed on the front end of the No. 4 Ford and Bowman was unchallenged when he passed Harvick for the lead on Lap 179. Harvick pit one lap later and dropped to 28th.
The fifth caution was called for debris on Lap 218 for debris on pit road after Newman’s crew lost a tire during a green flag pit stop. Bowman held the point until Elliott passed him on the restart and led until Caution 6—again for debris—after Ryan Blaney’s tire disintegrated in Turn 2 on Lap 240. Elliott remained on the track with the lead followed by Bowman, Stenhouse, Bowyer, Reddick, Buescher and Larson. Jones Keselowski and Kyle Busch completed the top 10 after service.
Stenhouse swung out low for the lead on the restart. Elliott became loose and dropped to sixth.
Kyle Busch made contact with Bowyer, developed a tire rub and was forced to pit on Lap 246. He finished 30th—ending his streak of 11-consecutive top 10 finishes.
Keselowski came from ninth to second in five laps then barreled by Bowman for the lead with six to go. On the next lap, Jones moved up to second. The race was slowed by the seventh and final caution on Lap 263 when the No. 95 Toyota of Matt DiBenedetto went up in smoke on the backstretch.
Keselowski and Jones restarted side-by-side as the race went into overtime on Lap 270. Jones accused Keselowski of jumping the start.
“I think he definitely went early,” Jones said. “I expected it, but he maybe went 10 to 15 feet early. It's the nature of the game and it’s hard to make that call. NASCAR isn’t going to make a stick-and-ball, strike call on that. We’ve all done it, we’ve all been there and it’s frustrating as a driver, but it happens.”
Keselowski extended his advantage as Bowman regained second from Jones—his third runner-up finish in as many races.
“It’s absolutely a good day for everyone at Hendrick Motorsports,” Bowman said. “We all had really competitive cars and we really appreciate everyone’s hard work to continue to build our cars and continue to get better like we have. It was a really good day.
“My family is from here, so it would have been pretty cool. Probably the two closest times I have been to winning was my hometown and my dad’s hometown, so it’s just frustrating. We will get one soon.”
Logano soldiered home to finish 15th—and take the points lead from Kyle Busch. He holds a nine-point advantage over Busch.