Brad Keselowski was an afterthought for much of the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway. For much, but not all, because when the pay window opened, Keselowski was there to cash in.
The Team Penske driver led just 12 laps Saturday night but stormed to the front with seven laps remaining and then held off Alex Bowman and the field in NASCAR overtime for his third win of the season.
Keselowski dedicated his 30th career win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to former Truck Series owner Mike Mittler, who passed away Friday.
“He helped a lot of guys in their career and I was one of them,” said Keselowski during his frontstretch interview. “Just such a huge loss in the NASCAR community. He was one of those unsung heroes who worked in the garage, gave his whole life to this sport, and there are so many of those guys and fans — it hurts to see those guys go away.
“Just a special day for Ford, Wurth .. what a great day,” Keselowski continued. “That restart, I just got a great launch, and Alex Bowman — I’ll tell ya, he’s going to win a race. He did a great job today; we just had a little bit fresher tires than he did and were able to make the move on the outside there, and just caught everything perfect.”
Bowman was in control with less than 20 laps to go, having taken the lead from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hunted down by Keselowski, the Hendrick Motorsports driver made his Chevrolet as wide as it needed to be to keep the charging Keselowski behind him. With seven laps to go, though, Keselowski stormed to the high side in Turns 3 and 4 and made the winning pass.
The race’s final caution flew with four laps to go for possible fluid from Matt DiBenedetto’s car. Keselowski drove away on the restart and was unchallenged at the checkered flag.
Bowman finished second for the third consecutive week. He led three different times for 63 laps.
Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, and Clint Bowyer completed the top five.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, and Chris Buescher. For Reddick, it was a career-best effort in just his second NASCAR Cup Series start, and he was the best of the Richard Childress Racing cars.
Kevin Harvick won Stage 1 after starting from the pole and led a race-high 104 laps. But, after dominating through the first stage and much of Stage 2, Harvick told the team they needed to go back on their adjustments. Then, just past the Lap 175 mark while leading, he told his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team something was wrong and he needed to pit under green flag conditions. Harvick fell off the lead lap and finished 13th.
Chase Elliott won Stage 2 and led 45 laps.
There were 23 lead changes at Kansas among 12 leaders and seven caution flags.