Updated 09:31 AM EDT, Fri, May 14, 2021

NASCAR 2014 Schedule, Game Standings & Winners: Brad Keselowski Takes Opening Race

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Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR's postseason opening race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, providing the spectacle promised by the Sprint Cup.

The winner maximized his strong restart in the last nine laps, affording himself a golden ticket to the next round of the 10-race event no matter what happens in the next two races, the Bleacher Report said. It was the daring drive through the middle that set Keselowski apart, Sporting News agreed.

Keselowski, another Sporting News report explained, used a three-wide pass of Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick at the racetrack to take first place. The move made sure that the Sprint Cup Chase was a spectacle, especially with Keselowski catapulting from a late setback.

The racer, who ultimately led with 62 laps, fell behind after heading for the pit twice for a loose wheel, the report explained.

Rookie racer Larson led on a restart with 18 laps remaining, with Harvick engaging him in a battle until Keselowski split them down the middle and hijacked the lead, the report said. When a caution flag was hoisted after a collision between Danica Patrick and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Keselowski held off his competition and just pulled away.

Jeff Gordon placed second when Larson, who managed a third place finish, brushed the wall just two laps before the finish line. Penske's Joey Logano was fourth, while Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch, followed. Larson's teammate, Jamie McMurray, was ninth. NASCAR.com has the complete rankings.

"Man, the next two weeks are going to be a lot of fun, knowing we don't have to worry too much and we are going to move up," Keselowski told ESPN. His average speed was 142.330 miles per hour in a race that ended after 2 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds and six caution flags, the earlier Sporting News piece said.

Keselowski was 1.759 seconds earlier than Gordon, with the race's lead changes recorded at 18, it added.

On his experience, Keselowski said: "I saw Kyle and Kevin racing each other really hard and they were aggressive at side-drafting and I was just waiting for an opportunity to strike and it came... The car stuck and everything just came together."

"What a crazy day, I'm not really sure what all happened," he added, as quoted by Sporting News. "Obviously it finished up well for us... I don't know how it happened, but I'm glad to be here."

The win proved that Keselowski was ready for another title, USA Today's Nate Ryan tweeted. The victory comes after the 2012 Sprint Cup champion missed the Chase last season.

The Cup's full schedule is available on ESPN.

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