Brad Keselowski overcame illness to take the win in the 60th annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Keselowski led the final 33 laps and held off a fast-closing Martin Truex, Jr. to take his 28th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, and the first points win for the Ford Mustang.

The win also gives the 2012 series champion his 60th win with Team Penske as a whole, making him the all-time win leader at the team.

Kevin Harvick, the stage 2 winner, was the initial leader the green flag flew on Lap 177 to kick off the final stage of the 325-lap race.

Kyle Larson started second and wasted no time dispatching Harvick and brought Martin Truex, Jr. with him as Harvick fell back.

The pair stayed in lockstep for the next 43 laps until the yellow flag flew for Kyle Busch’s cut tyre on Lap 221.

The caution brought the field down pit road to make their second to last pit stop on the day. Larson initially won the race off pit road but was assessed a penalty for speeding in the final sector. That elevated Harvick back to the lead as the field lined up for the Lap 228 restart.

Harvick brought the field down for the Lap 228 restart but was soon caught by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney on Lap 231.

As Harvick fell out of contention with a tight car, Blaney set sail and led the next 41 circuits as the final round of pitstops began.

The driver of the No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang pitted on Lap 273 and narrowly avoided disaster ahead of him. Rookie Ryan Preece came together with the slow car of BJ McLeod which brought out the race’s 5th and final yellow flag.

Blaney’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano moved into the lead with Kurt Busch in tow as they were the only two cars that had not pitted. They were also the only two cars on the lead lap and pitted on the yellow as the majority of the field took the wave around.

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That shuffled Keselowski up to third place but had a handful of lapped cars between himself and the front pair of Logano and Busch. Logano held the advantage on the restart, but Keselowski wasted no time fighting through traffic and set his sights on Logano.

Keselowski took the lead on Lap 293 following a friendly love tap with his teammate. Logano rode in his teammate’s tyre tracks until Lap 305 when he suddenly pulled onto pit road with a suspected flat tyre, leaving Keselowski with nearly a two-second lead of Martin Truex, Jr.

His comfortable lead soon evaporated as he slowed with an overheating issue.

Truex closed within striking distance with two to go, but Keselowski managed to hold on and take the win with Truex 0.216 of a second behind.

Considering everything the 35-year-old from Rochester Hills, Michigan native overcame, Keselowski was over the moon after the 500-mile contest.

"I was good enough to get the job done," Keselowski said in Victory Lane. "First I have to give credit to first, my wife (Paige) who was sick like I was. She took care of me just like everybody did in the care center. I couldn't be here right now without them.

"We over a piece of debris with probably 50 laps to go and overheated really bad and I thought there was no way this engine would make it to the end. Doug Yates and his team, they do a great job. I'm pretty sure it's all used up but it's in Victory Lane."

The significance of his 60th triumph with the team, which breaks a tie with Mark Donohue for most all-time with the team, made it extra special for him.

"This is one I'm not going to forget for a very long time," he said. "Any win means a lot, but that's a big number.

Truex finished second in his No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry as Kurt Busch claimed third, his first top five with Chip Ganassi Racing, with Harvick recovering from handling issues to finish fourth and his Stewart Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.

Kyle Busch rebounded from a flat tyre to end his 500th career start in sixth place while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones finished sixth. Pole-sitter Aric Almirola bounced back from an early speeding penalty to finish eighth as Chris Buescher finished ninth and Daniel Suarez claimed tenth.

Larson, who led the most laps at 142, never fully recovered from his speeding penalty and finished in 12th.

A trio of drivers saw good runs turn sour late led by Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric. The rookie was running inside the top five inside 30 to go but was forced to pit with a cut tyre which knocked him down to 20th.

Keselowski’s Team Penske teammates Blaney and Logano took turns up front but suffered similar fates. Logano pitted from second on Lap 304 with a supposed loose wheel, and Blaney pitted from the top ten on Lap 313 with a vibration. The pair finished 22nd and 23rd respectively.

 

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