Winning seems to be the cure for the flu. Brad Keselowski came down with the flu Friday night and was unable to practice on Saturday, turning that chore over to Austin Cindrick.
In a performance similar to NBA legend Michael Jordan’s infamous “Flu Game” in the 1997 NBA Finals, Keselowski, feeling 70-80 percent ready to go, started Sunday’s Folds Of Honor Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Atlanta.
Getting stronger as the race progressed, he took advantage of a good break with 50 laps to go, holding off Martin Truex Jr. and winning the race.
A caution occurred during a cycle of green flag pit stops with only two drivers on the lead lap. Keselowski was a lap down, but in position for the free pass.
The win was his second in three years at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“Good enough to get the job done,” Keselowski said afterwards. “My wife took great care of me along with everyone in the care center. This is one I’m not going to forget for a very long time.”
Keselowski is now the all-time winningest driver at Team Penske, breaking a tie with Mark Donohue. He’s got 60 career wins in NASCAR’s Cup and Xfinity series with the Penske program.
Everyone warns us about distracted driving and no words were truer in this race.
During the green-flag pit stop mentioned earlier, one of the worst mistakes pit road has seen in recent memory occurred when Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Preece looked down at his tackometer and plowed into the back of BJ McLoud exiting pit road. Running most of the race in the top 10, Preece was now out of the race.
As far as rookie mistakes, this was as bad as they come.
The new aero package that NASCAR is using this year produced much of the same type racing at Atlanta as in past years. The larger rear spoiler did allow the cars to race together for longer periods of time but track position was most important.
The next race will be in Las Vegas and should be more representative of what intermediate oval racing in 2019 will look like. Sunday's Pennzoil 400 is set to air on FOX at 2:30 p.m.
Qualifying will be held Friday night at 6:40 p.m. on FS1.
Art Larson Sr. is a special contributor to the Southern Standard.