Race Weekend Central

Brad Keselowski Breaks 110-Race Winless Streak at Darlington, Earns 1st 2024 Win for Ford

Brad Keselowski won this race.

After Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher made contact with nine laps to go, both drivers cut a tire, which cleared the path for Keselowski to break his 110-race winless streak that spanned all the way back to the 2021 fall race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The part-owner of RFK Racing gained his first career win as an owner-driver with his company after merging with Jack Roush and Fenway Sports Group in 2022. This was the first time a driver-owner has won since Tony Stewart won at Sonoma Raceway in 2016 for Stewart-Haas Racing. Keselowski led 35 of the 293 laps at Darlington Raceway’s Goodyear 400 to clinch his first win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season.

“What a heck of a day,” Keselowski said. “It’s Darlington. Whether it’s your first win, your last win, this is a really special track. It’s the history of NASCAR. It’s as tough as it gets, and that battle at the end with my teammate [Buescher], Tyler Reddick and I, We just all laid it all out on the line. It was freaking awesome. I thought it couldn’t get much better than Kansas [Speedway]. It did today… We did it!”

Ty Gibbs posted his best finish of the season after crossing the line 1.214 seconds behind the No. 6 Ford Mustang Dark Horse to capture second. Gibbs led 35 laps in the race and closed to within half a second in the closing laps.

Josh Berry completed his season-best result of third after running in the top 10 for most of the day, and Denny Hamlin, part-owner of Reddick’s No. 45 Toyota Camry, finished fourth. Chase Briscoe was the second SHR driver to finish in the top five, crossing the line fifth.

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William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley (season best), and Michael McDowell rounded out the top 10.

Buescher, who lost last week at Kansas by .001 seconds, and Reddick, who led the most laps today with 174 laps led, finished 30th and 32nd, respectively. The two confronted each other on pit road with Buescher extremely upset, pushing and angrily talking to Reddick.

“Clean racing until it wasn’t. They got side-by-side and got checked up, and we got by completely clean and was trying to take care of stuff and run hard,” Buescher said. “[Reddick] went for a move there that just was never going to happen. I just don’t get it. It wiped us both out. It was hard enough to where we wheel hopped into the fence. It’s not just a door-to-door contact and a little push and shove. It just ruined both of our days. I’m really frustrated by that. I’m just really pissed about that.”

“Just too aggressive,” Reddick said. “He was still outside. I tried to check up, but it was too little too late, and I slid right into him. [It] popped my tire, popped his tire. It sucks. If I just would’ve took myself out of it [and] I had a flat, it’s a different story. He was going to win that race had I not tried that. That’s the part that stinks. I realized it wasn’t going to work, and there was just no grip left. I slid right into him and took us both out. I’m not happy about it.”

Reddick won the pole and pulled to as much as a 1.7-second lead over Keselowski. Keselowski caught up to the back of Reddick as he approached lap traffic.

Instead of Reddick losing the lead to the No. 6 after green-flag pit stops, Gibbs took the lead after the cycle of pit stops and maneuvered through lap traffic to take a lead as large as 3.1 seconds over Larson.

Gibbs collected a Darlington Stripe and battled a loose car, allowing Kyle Larson to close back in for the lead. Larson took the lead on lap 79 after Gibbs got loose in turn 4.

Larson took the stage one win, under five seconds ahead of Gibbs in a caution-free stage. The rest of the stage one top five consisted of Keselowski, Reddick and Martin Truex Jr.

Reddick returned back to the lead thanks to his No. 1 pit stall and a flawless stage two restart ahead of Gibbs.

Reddick maintained the lead through two cautions, which included John Hunter Nemechek spinning on the frontstretch on lap 121 and another quick caution on the lap 129 restart for Ryan Blaney moderately hitting the wall out of turn 2, stacking Truex and Buescher behind him. Blaney made it clear to Byron of his displeasure by running up to the No. 24 before heading into the garage.

Reddick continued to lead ahead of Gibbs, but Gibbs caught up to Reddick by lap 163 at the same time as Zane Smith spinning on the frontstretch, bringing out the third caution for incident.

Reddick’s pit crew kept him out front, and Reddick defended a challenge from Keselowski on the lap 170 restart and pulled away from Keselowski to win stage two. Gibbs, Logano and Larson completed the stage two top five.

Reddick maintained his lead over Keselowski and Larson, continuing his domination of the field by pulling ahead by just over 4 seconds with 77 to go.

Once Reddick hit lap traffic, Keselowski closed the gap with 69 to go and cleared Reddick one lap later.

During green flag cycles, some of the field split between two- and one-stop strategies, with those electing one stop coming in after Larson hit the wall significantly. After the field cycled through with 51 to go, Keselowski maintained the lead over all the separate strategies.

Kyle Busch made significant contact with the wall in turn two, and he had to go to pit road on lap 248, but no caution came out for the impact with the wall. Shortly after on lap 254, Larson suffered a flat tire running seventh and crashed into the turn 3 wall, bringing out the caution and ending the day for the No. 5 Terry Labonte throwback in 34th.

Reddick’s pit crew once again pulled through and gave Reddick the lead with a fast stop.

Reddick and Keselowski battled door-to-door for four laps on the lap 261 restart, and Keselowski’s teammate Buescher tried to help his boss get past the No. 45.

Reddick and Keselowski made contact that slowed them both, and Buescher went very low on the frontstretch to pass the two three-wide, taking the lead.

With 11 laps to go, Reddick made a move into turn 3 on lap 285, which cut both Reddick and Buescher’s tires and sent both drivers to pit road, giving Keselowski his long-awaited win after staying ahead Gibbs in second.

Cup Results at Darlington

The Cup Series will take a break from points-paying racing with a trip to the North Carolina hills at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the All-Star Race on Sunday, May 19. Coverage will be provided by FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m.

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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Carl D.

Sweet! It’s been waaay too long. WTG, Brad!

Echo

I agree, WTG Brad. I’m happy for him.

Bill B

I agree. I’ve been pulling for Brad for the last 3 seasons. It was nice to see the race finally go his way.

DoninAjax

Ford won! Time for a “rule” change. The 17 might have been faster if he didn’t run into the rear of the 12.

DoninAjax

The “Darlington Stripe” was a scratch on the right rear quarter panel caused by the car caressing the steel guard rail out of turn four on the original layout which the driver used to straighten the car down the front straight. The current cars now get a “Darlington Swipe” in the corners when they slide into the wall.

Truex hit the left rear of the 12 and put him into the wall.

Berry drove a really smart event and was up front when it counted.

Echo

Is bubba getting better! It almost seems Hamlin owned cars have stumbled on something they aren’t sharing with Gibbs.

DoninAjax

The other 4 are fast too, but they finish better. Vinyl is making another return?

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