Like Babe Ruth, Brad Keselowski called his shot and hit a home run at Richmond Raceway on Saturday.
Knowing he was racing the Federated Auto Parts 400 in the same car he won with so decisively at New Hampshire on August 2, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford entered the weekend with a ton of confidence.
The car—and his team—did not let Keselowski down as he led 192 laps en route to his 34th-career Cup finish and advanced to the Round of 12 in the Playoffs.
“Man that’s awesome,” Keselowski said. “Set out with a goal and I got it here.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished second followed by Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, who was without crew chief Adam Stevens and came from the rear of the field after his team failed pre-race inspection twice.
"Just could never really find it," Truex said. "Really was pretty surprised that we ran as good as we did with the way that the car felt. It really wasn’t doing anything that I wanted it to do or that we’ve done here in the past when we’ve been good. Just a battle all night. Fought hard and the guys did a great job with adjustments, pit stops and all that to just execute and keep us up front. Good, solid night.”
Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10. Rookie Tyler Reddick finished 11th and was the final car on the lead lap.
Denny Hamlin won the first stage but was issued a speeding penalty when he came to pit and never recovered. He finished 12th, the first car one lap down. Austin Dillon was also busted for speeding during that same round of stops on Lap 84, but cycled back to the point by Lap 182. He led 36 laps before Keselowski motored to the lead for a second time.
Keselowski held serve to win Stage 2 with Dillon, Truex and Logano in tow. He retained the lead out of the pits and dominated the second half of the race, relinquishing control only under pit stops. But as the field cycled out, Keselowski would return to lead. A lack of cautions over the final 157 laps only strengthened his position. Still, Keselowski acknowledged he had to remain patient during the second half of the race.
“We were expecting there to be long green flag runs,” Keselowski said. “We knew this was gonna be a really big pit strategy race, but we had the speed, we had the strategy. This team today did it all.”
On top of Dillon's speeding penalty--his sixth of the season--he missed the entry of pit road when attempting to come in for service on Lap 336. The No. 3 Chevy eventually made it to pit road and set his sights on the leaders.
Kurt Busch’s team attempted a one-stop strategy in the final stage, but his advantage was short-lived. With new tires, Dillon easily passed the No. 1 Ganassi Chevy and took the lead on Lap 349. Keselowski cruised by Dillon three laps later and led the final 48 laps of the race. He beat Truex to the line by 1.568-seconds for his second Richmond win and his fourth victory of 2020.
“It was a great race for us and the 2 team,” Keselowski said. “I wanted to do a really cool burnout, but I want this car for Phoenix. It’s 2-for-2 and I’m really pumped. I don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ve got to get there.
“The next round is gonna be really difficult, but, still, I’m really pumped about this performance and the way we run at short tracks. I felt like coming in here with the Western Star/Alliance Ford Mustang that we would run well, but this thing was awesome.”
Keselowski picked up six Playoff points for his effort and moved to within 21 points of leader Kevin Harvick.