Breaking Brad: Darlington Win Ends Drought for Keselowski, Ford


With a little luck on his side, Brad Keselowski ended his 110-race winless streak today, May 12, at Darlington Raceway. It was also the first win of the NASCAR season for Ford and the new Dark Horse Mustang.

The victory also marked the first win for Keselowski with his RFK Racing team. It is the first win by a team co-owner and driver since 2016 when Tony Stewart went to victory lane with Stewart Haas Racing.

Things were shaping up quite nicely for Roush Fenway Keselowski in the closing laps. Chris Buescher was leading the race and Keselowski was running behind pole-sitter Tyler Reddick.

On Lap 284, Reddick tried a maneuver to take over the lead, but it failed miserably. Buescher and Reddick came together, got into the wall, and both had to pit after suffering flat tires.

That was bittersweet for Keselowski, who inherited the lead once again. Brad led 37 laps in the race, including the most important one. It marked his 36th career win in the Cup series.

“What a heck of a day,” Keselowski said after exiting the cars. “It’s Darlington, so whether it’s your first win, your last win, this is a really special track. The history of NASCAR, it’s as tough as it gets, and that battle at the end with my teammate and Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all out on the line, it was freaking awesome.”

Ford had been a bridesmaid six times this season, and were riding a 33-race winless streak. Leave it to the 40-year-old Keselowski to deliver the first win for the blue oval this year.

Keselowski has turned things around after a brutal start to the season with a pair of 33rd-place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. He finished 4th at Phoenix, 3rd at Bristol, then scored two consecutive runner-up finishes at Texas and Talladega.

The win at Darlington is validation that RFK Racing is back.

Chris Buescher vs Tyler Reddick

It was an unfortunate end to a promising day for Buescher and Reddick. They finished 30th and 32nd after being two of the best cars on the track. Reddick made a move that was not likely to work, but he saw his opportunity and went for it. It was much more costly for Buescher, who, unlike Reddick, does not have a win this season.

“That move is just something that you know is not going to work,” Buescher told TV reporters on pit road. “I’m just really angry about it right now. We certainly had a chance to win another one. I’m proud to have that speed. Just huge congratulations to Brad and the No. 6 bunch on their win. That’s awesome, but I wanted it for our group right here.”

Although it won’t make Buescher feel any better, Reddick did apologize multiple times for the move. “I made a really aggressive move and was hoping I was going to clear him. When I realized I wasn’t going to, I tried to check up to not slide up into him, but, yeah, I wish I wouldn’t have done that.”

“I completely understand why he is that mad,” Reddick continued. “He did nothing wrong. Just trying to win the race, and to take myself out, that’s one thing. I can live with that, but just disappointed it played out the way that it did, and I took him out of the race as well.”

Another Heartbreak for Buescher

Today’s result would crush the hearts of most drivers, but two weeks in a row is a special kind of heartache. Last weekend at Kansas, Buescher nearly had the win in hand. Instead, he lost to Kyle Larson in an epic photo finish. The margin of 0.001 seconds made it the closest finish in NASCAR history.

Coming close two consecutive weekends in a row is tough, but even more so when considering the wait that Buescher now must endure. While they will be racing next Sunday, it is just the All-Star race. Drivers will still be clamoring to win, but there are no points or playoff positions awarded.

Buescher will have to wait two full weeks before he has another shot at redemption. If he can claim victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, these past two races might all have been worth it.