Brad Keselowski ends 3-year drought with win at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- There were so many special parts of Brad Keselowski's first NASCAR victory in three years, it was difficult for him to say what meant the most.

It was the 36th of his career and his second at Darlington Raceway, which he reveres as an ultimate test of drivers. It came in front of his young family with daughters Scarlett, who'll turn 9 later this month, and 4-year-old Autumn joining him on the podium.

And it was his first since leaving the Penske organization to become co-owner at Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in 2022.

"There's a lot of things to be excited about, don't know which one means the most," Keselowski said with a smile.

He moved to the front when leaders Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick hit battling for first with nine laps left, and he held on to win the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday.

"Hell of an effort by everyone," Keselowski said after crossing the finish line.

It appeared Buescher, an employee of Keselowski at RFK, would get the win after he passed his boss and Reddick with 29 laps to go. But Buescher and Reddick then hit and fell back, opening the door for Keselowski's satisfying victory.

"What a heck of a day," he said. "That battle out there with my teammate and Tyler Reddick, we just laid it all on the line."

Keselowski acknowledged the risk he took when he left Penske. Fans got on him when Austin Cindric won the 2022 Daytona 500, saying it could have been him, and when Penske drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney won the past two NASCAR Cup Series crowns.

But Keselowski could not be happier with his choice and the direction RFK is headed.

"I think you guys know, I'm going to do things my own way," he said.

Ty Gibbs was second, Josh Berry third and Denny Hamlin fourth. Chase Briscoe was fifth, followed by William Byron, Bubba Wallace, Justin Haley and Michael McDowell.

It was another near miss for Buescher, who lost by 0.001 seconds to Kyle Larson at Kansas in the closest finish in NASCAR history.

Buescher slid to 30th and Reddick 32nd.

Buescher confronted Reddick when both got out of their cars. Reddick took full blame for the incident.

"That's two weeks in a row we had a shot to win races," Buescher said. "One, I'm going to relive in my head forever at what I would've done different [at Kansas]. The other, I need someone else to be more mature about it."

Larson was in the top 10 when he spun out with 40 laps left and could not return.

One slip-up also ended the chances of two NASCAR champions. Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Byron were three wide on Lap 128 when Byron tagged Truex, who pushed into Blaney and sent him against the wall in Turn 2.

The crew for Blaney, the defending Cup Series champion, could not repair the damage and his day was done. He rode up alongside Byron to signal his displeasure with Byron's move.

"He used a little bit more race track than I thought, so I have every right to be mad and he gets away scot-free," said Blaney, who wound up last in 36th place.

Truex, the 2017 series champion, dropped from the top 10 and finished 25th.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.