LAS VEGAS, Nev. — For the first time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicked off the playoffs in Las Vegas and the fans and drivers had all the action that they could handle. The drivers battled the heat and each other into overtime after a late crash red flagged the race and added five extra laps.
Brad Keselowski was able to hold off Kyle Larson to pick up his third win in a row and the 500th victory for Team Penske. With the win Keselowski locks down his spot in the next round of the playoffs.
“To start the playoffs with a win is really strong. I know it’s three in a row and all that great stuff, but it’s really a testament to this team.” Keselowski said.
Las Vegas wasn’t kind to drivers in the playoffs. Kevin Harvick lost a tire in lap 148 and crashed hard into the outside wall. Harvick’s crash collected playoff contender, Erik Jones. Chase Elliott was involved with the No. 1 of Jamie McMurray relegating Elliott to 36th place. Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch all were involved in on track incidents, leaving some of them in a big hole after the first race of the playoffs.
Kyle Larson finished second, Martin Truex, Jr. third, Joey Logano was fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.
After the first playoff race Keselowski is the points leader followed by Truex Jr., Kyle Busch is third, Kevin Harvick in fourth and Joey Logano is fifth. Four drivers have dropped below the cut line after rough rides at Las Vegas. Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin head into next week with only three races left to work their way into round two of the playoffs.
The Monster Energy Cup Series rolls into Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday night.