Brad Keselowski Wins The Auto Club 400 In Last-Lap Fashion

Brad Keselowski stole the show just in the nick of time Sunday as he passed Kurt Busch in turns one and two on the final lap of the 19th annual Auto Club 400, and held him off all the way back around the 2.0-mile oval to claim his first victory of the 2015 season.

Kevin Harvick finished second, Kurt Busch third, Paul Menard fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five.

The victory was Brad’s seventeenth Sprint Cup Series victory, and his first ever top-ten finish at the Auto Club Speedway in seven tries.

Kurt Busch No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet was the class of the field in all three practices and qualifying on Friday and Saturday, and he was again on Sunday, but two late race green-white-checker restarts cost Busch in the end, after leading a race high 65 laps.

In his first two starts since being suspended by NASCAR for literally doing nothing wrong, Busch has two top-five finishes, which moves him up to 28th in the Sprint Cup Series driver points standings.

David Ragan, who continues to sub for the injured Kyle Busch, brought out the first caution of the day on lap 22 when his No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spun off of turn 4. Prior to the spin, he and Jeff Gordon had been racing very hard for the seventh position, and through turns three and four, Gordon took the air off of the back of Ragan’s Toyota, and he spun towards the infield, but did not sustain any damage.

Matters would get worse for Ragan forty laps later as during green flag pit stops his team suffered an uncontrolled tire violation, putting him two laps down. Ragan battled back, and with the help of numerous late race cautions, he was able to take two wave arounds and finish on the lead-lap in eighteenth.

With a little over fifty laps to go Dale Jr., who ran inside the top-ten consistently throughout the afternoon, reported over the radio that he was almost positive he had a loose wheel. Crew Chief Greg Ives reported back to Jr. that their may be debris down the backstretch. The old desperation plea hoping NASCAR would recognize some type of caution worthy debris somewhere on the race track, and just four laps later the caution was thrown for debris on the frontstretch, saving Jr. from a costly early in the run green flag pit stop.

With a little luck on his side Jr. kept up his very consistent start to the season with a six-place finish Sunday in Fontana.

Kevin Harvick had another great day as he led thirty-four laps, and he looked like the only driver that had anything for his teammate Kurt Busch over the course of the day. Harvick, did however, finish ahead of Kurt Busch at the end of the scheduled 200-lap race as Busch tried a hail mary move going into turns three and four on the last lap trying to retake the lead back from Keselowski, but instead his car slid up the race track and he slapped the wall, thus allowing the defending champion to finish runner-up.

All four of the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet’s finished in the top-twenty as Tony Stewart finished fourteenth, and Danica Patrick brought home a nineteenth place-finish.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads east as the sixth race of the 2015 season will take place next Sunday at the Martinsville Speedway with the running of the 2015 STP 500.

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