Keselowski picks up win in first play-off race of 2018

Kevin Harvick

Keselowski secured team owner Roger Penske's 500th victory across all competitions with a resourceful performance amid trying circumstances and 99-degree Las Vegas heat.

"I would say there's a few dark horses", Jones said after edging Joey Logano by a minuscule margin for his second career pole. He soon had to deal with Harvick and was unable to keep the 4 from taking the lead. "We nailed the pit stops and the restarts when it counted, and we were strong".

J.R. Todd took the Funny Car points lead, winning the playoff-opening Dodge NHRA Nationals in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, for his second straight victory. He posted the fastest time on track in that stage.

Another round of pit stops was necessary not too much later, as Ty Dillon had some trouble that led to his tire leaving his vehicle and striking out on its own.

Defending Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. claimed the Stage 1 victory.

What happened next, though, was the kind of incident that could really shake up the playoffs.

"I knew we had a good vehicle in practice, I didn't know if we were going to have the speed to get the pole, but the track kind of came to us", Jones told NBCSN after his run.

Playoff drivers Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing and Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing filled out the podium. However, it was only a matter of time until cars with fresher tires ran him down, and Keselowski was the first to do so. (24) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 186.400 miles per hour. 22. Elliott's No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet left a long black streak on the SAFER barrier before it came to a rest.

(P) Playoff driver. # Rookie. Dixon held a 29-point lead over Rossi at the start of the day, and even though the race was worth double points, Rossi needed to be flawless to catch "The Iceman".


For Kyle Busch, it could have been much worse.

"We have not been the best auto the last three weeks", Keselowski said. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.

While they continued to battle it out, another playoff driver ended up going on an unwanted trip through the grass. Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.is priced among the scrubs this weekend, which makes him an nearly instant start.

More problems for playoff contenders awaited. 15th seed #48 Jimmie Johnson from Hendrick Motorsports. 9th seed #12 Ryan Blaney hasn't reached the success of 2017, by winning but none the less in his first year in a team Penske auto has made the playoffs once again.

It felt unlikely that things would stay green the rest of the way, given the chaos that had enveloped most of the final stage.

Keselowski had plenty of worries with just two laps to go while he sat in his stationary vehicle and waited for the cleanup of Michael McDowell's wreck with Kurt Busch. Will the one they call "the Closer" get championship number two in 2018.

Erik Jones scored his second-career pole in his first playoff race.

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