1st win of the season for Brad Keselowski and Ford

The 13th NASCAR Cup regular season race at Darlington Raceway ended on Mother’s Day after a dramatic final phase with the first win of the season for Brad Keselowski in the RFK-Ford. This ended a 110-race drought without a win for Keselowski on the ‘Throwback Weekend’ at Darlington Raceway.

It was the team co-owner’s second victory on the ‘Lady in Black’ and the 36th success of his career. At the same time, manufacturer Ford was also able to celebrate its first win of the season.

Kyle Larson in the Hendrick Chevrolet during a pit stop
Kyle Larson (#5 Hendrick Motorsports) during the pit stop, Photo: LAT Images

Stage 1: Larson dusts off

Pole setter Tyler Reddick in the 23XI Toyota dominated the first 37 laps after the start. After the only green flag stop, Ty Gibbs took command at the front in the Gibbs Toyota. The grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs already looked like the sure stage winner when he created one of many Darlington stripes on the wall. Kyle Larson passed easily and secured his seventh stage win of the season after 90 laps with the most beautiful ‘throwback’ design this weekend.

Duel between Brad Keselowski in the RFK Ford and Tyler Reddick in the 23XI Toyota
Tyler Reddick (#45 23XI Racing) wins the 2nd stage ahead of Brad Keselowski (#6 RFK Racing, Photo: LAT Images

Stage 2: Reddick wins duel against Keselowski

In the second stage, Reddick benefited from his strong pit stops and subsequent restarts. Reddick led a total of 174 of 293 laps in the race. He took the second stage win of 2024 ahead of Keselowski and Gibbs. Defending champion Ryan Blaney in the Penske-Ford was unfortunately involved in a chain reaction crash and ended the race in the garage.

Brad Keselowski in the RFK Ford
Brad Keselowski on the way to victory, Photo: LAT Images

Stage 3/Finish: Keselowski laughing third

The final stage over 108 laps became a top-class spectacle after the last green flag stop. 42 laps before the end of the race there was the next high-profile retirement after Larson had a puncture. After the last restart there were still 33 laps to go. What followed was a lap-long duel between Reddick and Keselowski for the lead, which changed hands four times. Then the opponents touched and Buescher passed both opponents.

Twelve laps before the end of the race, Buescher, Reddick and Keselowski were within a second. Reddick then attacked Buescher again. It ended with Buescher coming into contact with the wall and tire damage for both cars. Keselowski happily took the lead on lap 285. The new runner-up Gibbs came a little closer, but Keselowski won for the first time as a team co-owner in the RFK-Ford. He won by 1,215 seconds after leading a total of 37 laps.

Top 10 & overall standings

Behind Keselowski and Gibbs, rookie Josh Berry finished third. For the Stewart-Haas newcomer in the Ford, it was the best result so far. Berry won the rookie championship for the fourth time in a row and sixth time overall. His teammate Chase Briscoe came fifth ahead of William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Justin Haleys and Michael McDowell in tenth place. Ross Chastain finished eleventh in his 200th Cup race.

Gibbs and Haley achieved their best result of the season. Bowman earned his fourth consecutive top-10 finish. For Byron and Bowman it was the eighth top 10 placement this season. In addition to the two conclusion cautions, there were four more yellow phases after the stages. Spectators saw 16 lead changes by ten drivers. In the manufacturers’ standings, Chevrolet continues to lead with seven wins, ahead of Toyota with five wins and Ford with its first win.

In the playoff standings, Hamlin remains number one ahead of William Byron with three wins each. Larson follows with two wins. Brad Keselowski jumped from 16th to sixth. After that the order didn’t change. Larson continues to collect the most total points (486), top-five finishes (6), lead laps (648) and pole awards (3). Chase Elliott is the driver with the best average finish with a value of 9.8th place.

Brad Keselowski (RFK Racing) celebrates his first win of the season in Victory Lane
Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane, Photo: LAT Images

Gallery: All images from Darlington Raceway

Statistics for the 13th race of the season (Regular Season)

Laps & race duration:
293 (Stages: 90/85/108) laps (400,238 miles), 3:12:30 hours
Brad Keselowski (1st win in 2024, 2nd Darlington win, 36th career win)
Driver with the best points:
Brad Keselowski, 57 (8/9/40) points
Stage wins (2024):
Stage 1: Kyle Larson (7)
Top 10: #5, 54, 6, 45, 19, 38, 17, 12, 24, 23
Stage 2: Tyler Reddick (2)
Top 10: #45, 6, 54, 22, 5, 24, 17, 11, 23, 1
Stage 3/Goal: Brad Keselowski (1st win 2024)
Top 10: #6, 54, 4, 11, 14, 24, 23, 48, 51, 34

NASCAR Cup interim results
TOP 20 (after race 13/36)

Regular season 2024
(with all bonus points & penalties)
all winners (races 1-26):
1. (1) Denny Hamlin, 447 points (3 wins)
2. (2) William Byron, 400 points (3 wins)
3. (3) Kyle Larson, 486 points (2 wins)
4. (4) Chase Elliott, 437 points (1 win)
5. (5) Tyler Reddick, 396 points (1 win)
6. (16) Brad Keselowski, 344 points (1 win)
7. (6) Christopher Bell, 320 points (1 win)
8. (7) Daniel Suarez, 263 points (1 win)
Total points (not including a win):
9. (8) Martin Truex Jr., 456 points
10. (10) Ty Gibbs, 390 points
11. (9) Ryan Blaney, 371 points
12. (11) Alex Bowman, 365 points
13. (12) Ross Chastain, 358 points
14. (13) Chris Buescher, 331 points
15. (14) Kyle Busch, 324 points
16. (15) Chase Briscoe, 322 points
On the bubble:
17. (17) Bubba Wallace, 316 points
18. (18) Joey Logano, 292 points
19. (19) Noah Gragson, 239 points
20. (20) Austin Cindric, 232 points
The first 16 drivers are qualified for the PLAYOFFS

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