After the West Coast Swing, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series had a short trip to Martinsville Speedway for some short-track racing. With the season in full swing, race fans are seeing a lot of the same results as last season with top performers staying competitive. Martinsville Speedway is always a difficult track with tight corners making it hard to stay in rhythm
Joey Logano started on the pole, but Brad Keselowski quickly took the race lead while Denny Hamlin stayed in pursuit of Keselowski with the rest of the field battling it out behind them. Hamlin began to close off the gap when Keselowski started running into lap traffic. A caution came out on lap 65 after Michael McDowell ran into the wall coming off turn four. After pitting under caution, Keselowski remained in the lead. Chase Elliott stayed right behind him in the second position. Elliott gave Keselowski a tough battle, but Keselowski hung on to win the first stage.
Brad Keselowski remained the race leader again after pit stops took place during the stage break. On lap 146 Ross Chastain brought out the caution. None of the leaders pit under the early caution in the stage. Keselowski went back out to the race lead with Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott battling for the second-place position. While these two battled it out, Ryan Blaney was able to catch and pass both for the second-place position. Nobody was able to catch Keselowski as he was able to take the win in the second stage.
Once again, Brad Keselowski won the race off pit road, and restarted the final stage in the lead. With 187 laps left in the race, a caution came out for William Byron spinning after creating contact with Ty Dillon. While pitting under caution, Denny Hamlin was penalized for an uncontrolled tire, and Clint Bowyer was penalized for speeding on pit road. Both set backs were huge as these guys had great races up to this point.
Keselowski restarted first, but Chase Elliott was quick to pass him for the race lead. Matt Tift ran into the wall with 127 laps left. The leaders went to pit and Keselowski won the race off pit road as his pit crew was incredible.
The race did not run green the rest of way as another caution came out involving Ross Chastain with only 55 laps left. Keselowski restarted first. Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch were battling hard to pass one another for a shot to pass Keselowski. Elliott fended off Busch but could not reach a position to pass allowing Keselowski to win the STP 500 in a dominating fashion.
This victory marks Brad Keselowski’s second win of the season as he led 446 of the total 500 laps in the race. It was a dominating race with a strong effort from his pit road team to keep their driver in the lead throughout the day. Keselowski was challenged, however as this race was not an easy one to win. Denny Hamlin battled hard for the lead in the first stage while it was Chase Elliott battling him hard in the second stage and even passing Keselowski on a restart in the final stage of the race. Keselowski was consistently leading as the target for several drivers. Twenty laps into the race Keselowski had already caught the tail end of the field, lapping one by one. Regardless, it was an extremely entertaining race at Martinsville Speedway.
This coming weekend, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway. This will be another great opportunity to see how the new aero-package will perform. So far this season it has not lived up to the hype, but many drivers are still trying to figure out the new package while still trying to get their first win to secure a playoff spot. Several teams see the race at Texas as their opportunity to punch an early ticket into the playoffs.