Brad Keselowski kicked off the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday at Las Vegas Motor & Speedway with a win in the South Point Hotel & Gambling Establishment 400. It was Keselowski’s third-consecutive win, stretching back to the final pair of regular season races in Darlington and Indianapolis.
Keselowski’s win Sunday was team owner Roger Penske’s 500th win throughout all kinds of motorsport. Group Penske honored the milestone with all three of its cars and trucks in the top-five of the finishing order. Keselowski’s teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney completed 4th and fifth, respectively.
“What an unique day for 500 wins for Penske, 3 in a row here, first win in the playoffs,” Keselowski stated. “There are a lot of storylines for me to get it all right, however we’re very grateful and really happy for all them.”
Keselowski took his final lead of the race simply prior to a 10th caution that brought out 14 laps remaining in the 267-lap arranged distance. The race, however, was extended by an overtime reboot that followed a 12th care for a multi-car event that involved playoff driver Kurt Busch, among several others.
“I didn’t think it was ever going to end,” Keselowski said. “I was stressed over running out of gas there at the end. I know the fans can hear on this microphone, and I wish to state thank you to everybody who braved 100-degree heat all day. You people are the real heroes. I get paid to do this. You guys pay to see, and thank you for doing that. Thank you for coming out today and enduring the heat. We’re so pleased to be able to win and get in victory lane, again, with the Autotrader Ford.”
Kyle Larson ended up second after difficulty early in the race. He made an unscheduled rest stop from the third position for a flat right-front tire with seven laps staying in the very first 80-lap phase. He went a lap down as an outcome of the extra stop, however when the caution came at completion of the opening phase, he stayed out and took a wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
Larson got back to the front with a pit strategy of avoiding at the end of the second stage after pitting during another care a few laps previously.
Other playoff drivers likewise had problems. Kevin Harvick and Erik Jones were credited with the last 2 completing positions after wrecking together on Lap 147 after which both motorists retired from the race. Erik Jones starts on the pole. Erik Jones  and Joey Logano  launch front in the South & Point Hotel & Gambling Establishment 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 16, 2018.
“Well, there was something incorrect from the time we put the tires on,” Harvick stated. “It was like Russian Live roulette each time you put these piece of crap tires on and try to drive around the race track. One time it is tight; one time it is loose; one time they are blistered. We had a terrific vehicle, and after that, you put a set of tires on it, and you cannot hardly make it through the field. I simply dislike it for everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford.”
Another playoff chauffeur, Chase Elliott, was collected by a Jamie McMurray spin on Lap 213. Like Harvick and Jones before him, the occurrence resulted in Elliott’s early retirement from the race.
“I’m assuming that the right rear tire should have rubbed a hole in it [tire], and I have no idea why I decided to run the bottom on that lap,” McMurray said. “I want I had stayed against the wall. In some cases those look huge, but it in fact didn’t hurt that bad. It was a wedding day for Gearwrench. They really gave away a brand-new Camaro to a consumer. We’ve had a great week. I had a great vehicle. I have actually had an excellent vehicle for the last 3 weeks, so that’s regrettable.”
Denny Hamlin spun to draw out the ninth care of the race on Lap 246. 3 more playoff drivers, Clint Bowyer and Hendrick Motorsports colleagues Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, each made contact with the wall in the last 10 laps of the race.
Playoff drivers took the leading 7 positions in the ending up order, with Kyle Busch declaring seventh. Prior to getting inside the top-10 for the checkered flag, Busch likewise had his battles. A sluggish rest stop during a Lap 112 care put Busch back in 24th for a reboot. Then, he made an extra stop during a yellow flag on Lap 213 and rebooted 25th with 45 laps remaining.
Martin Truex Jr. and Keselowski were the 2 phase winners, with Truex winning the 2nd stage at Lap 80 and Keselowski leading when the second phase ended at Lap 160. Truex finished third after leading a race-high 96 laps of the 272-lap race.
SOUTH POINT HOTEL & & CASINO 400 RESULTS:
1. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford
2. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet
3. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Toyota
4. Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford
5. Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
6. Aric Almirola, No. 10 Ford
7. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
8. Daniel Suarez, No. 19 Toyota
9. Ryan Newman, No. 31 Chevrolet
10. Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford
11. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet
12. Regan Smith, No. 95 Chevrolet
13. Trevor Bayne, No. 6 Ford
14. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 47 Chevrolet
15. Chris Buescher, No. 37 Chevrolet
16. Corey LaJoie, No. 72 Chevrolet
17. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota
18. Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet
19. Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet
20. Ross Chastain, No. 15 Chevrolet
21. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Ford
22. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
23. Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford
24. Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford
25. Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 96 Toyota
26. Kyle Weatherman, No. 99 Chevrolet
27. David Ragan, No. 38 Ford
28. B.J. McLeod, No. 51 Ford
29. Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford
30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford
31. Reed Sorenson, No. 7 Chevrolet
32. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
33. Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota
34. Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet
35. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chevrolet
36. Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet
37. William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet
38. Darrell Wallace Jr., No. 43 Chevrolet
39. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Ford
40. Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will go night racing at Richmond Raceway in Virginia on Sept. 22. It’ll be the middle race of the opening three-race round of the 10-race playoffs. Kyle Larson is the defending winner of the fall race at Richmond, but Kyle Busch won there when the series ran at the track in April.