NASCAR at Las Vegas: Results, highlights from Brad Keselowski's dramatic playoff win

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NASCAR (Getty Images)

As NASCAR Cup Series championship contenders dropped one by one Saturday in Las Vegas, Brad Keselowski averted disaster, made efficient pit stops and drove his way to a third consecutive victory.

Keselowski’s playoff-opening triumph clinched advancement to the next postseason round.

Others, such as point leaders Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, weren’t as lucky. Busch skidded through the grass and finished seventh, while Harvick hit the wall and was knocked out of the race in Stage 2.

Playoff contenders Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Eric Jones were also sidetracked by serious crashes.

Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. finished behind Keselowski to round out the top three in Las Vegas.

Here’s a look at the updated playoff standings:

Martin Truex Jr.: 2087

Kyle Busch: 2085

Brad Keselowski: 2069

Kevin Harvick: 2060

Joey Logano: 2056

Kurt Busch: 2046

Ryan Blaney: 2042

Kyle Larson: 2041

Aric Almirola: 2034

Austin Dillon: 2031

Alex Bowman: 2028

Jimmie Johnson: 2022

Chase Elliott: 2019

Erik Jones: 2009

Denny Hamlin: 2008

NASCAR at Las Vegas: Results, highlights from South Point 400

Caution flags: 12

Lead changes: 23 lead changes among nine drivers

Lap leaders: Martin Treux Jr. (96), Brad Keselowski (75), Joey Logano (46), Kyle Larson (24), Kevin Harvick (14), Regan Smith (10), Jamie McMurray (5), Denny Hamlin (1), Kyle Busch (1)

Stage 1 top 10: 78, 4, 88, 41, 9, 18, 22, 20, 10, 31

Stage 2 top 10: 2, 41, 78, 48, 1, 22, 9, 12, 88, 42

Sporting News provided live updates and highlights throughout the race (all times Eastern).

7:02 p.m. — Larson finished second. Truex Jr. finished third. What a wild race.

7:02 p.m. — Keselowski does it! Third straight win!

7:01 p.m. — Keselowski is way in front! One lap to go.

7 p.m..: They’re back at it!

6:59 p.m.: Keep in mind that no one is on fresh tires. That could be an issue here during overtime.

6:55 p.m.: Yellow flag. We’re almost ready for what should be a crazy finish.

6:50 p.m.: Here’s how things stand as we wait out this delay.

6:43 p.m. — Keselowski is ahead but there’s another HUGE crash! Kurt Busch was involved. Red flag.

6:41 p.m. — It’s a two lap showdown here. 

6:37 p.m. — Another caution. Wow.

6:37 p.m. — Seven to go. Keselowski back on top.

6:35 p.m. — More issues for playoff contenders.

6:34 p.m. — Larson speeds back into the lead! Ten to go!

6:29 p.m. — Keselowski is now ahead, trailed by Logano and Larson.

6:26 p.m. — Another caution with a crash in the back. Remember how clean Stage 1 was? We’re a long way from that.

6:25 p.m. — Positions out of a restart.

6:21 p.m. — Larson is hanging on with 20 laps to go. Could be a crazy ending here.

6:20 p.m. — Denny Hamlin in the grass! Holy cow. Another contender is done.

6:19 p.m. — This could not be closer. Larson is using a high position as Keselowski tries to pass him down low.

6:17 p.m. — Keselowski and Larson are side by side. Twenty-six laps to go.

6:16 p.m. — Larson speeds into first! Wow what a move there.

6:14 p.m. — Thirty laps to go. Keselowski, Truex Jr. and Larson lead the way.

6:12 p.m. — Here’s video of that Kyle Busch incident. 

6:08 p.m. — Kyle Busch drives into the grass! He’s trying to continue but that was bad.

6:07 p.m. — Aaaaaand it just might not be Dillon’s afternoon. Yikes.

6:06 p.m. — Austin Dillon is in 10th! Despite a frustrating day, he could finish in a decent position.

6:02 p.m. — Jimmie Johnson is down to ninth with 45 laps to go, but according to NBCSN, his crew is confident in his car. Can he make another run?

5:57 p.m. — Pit road has been big today.

5:56 p.m. — Fifty more laps!

5:52 p.m. — It seems like Elliott is shaken up after that crash.

5:50 p.m. — Big crash involving Chase Elliott. The hood of his car is almost torn off and he’s done.

5:47 p.m. — Fifty-five laps to go, and Truex Jr. is starting to pull away from Keselowski.

5:43 p.m. — Can Keselowski pull off a third straight win? It might come down to the wire.

5:41 p.m. — Harvick complained about his tires after he crashed out of this race. Goodyear has a response.

5:38 p.m. — Lots of movement at the front right now.

5:36 p.m. — With 77 laps to go, here’s your top five: Keselowski, Logano, Truex Jr., Larson, Ryan Blaney.

5:30 p.m. — Caution for the rookie.

5:25 p.m. — Keselowski is back in the lead! Kyle Larson is in second.

5:22 p.m. — Keselowski replaced his tires and is now back up to second place.

5:14 p.m. — Crushing blow for Bowman, who had been solid throughout the afternoon.

5:10 p.m. — We’re through Stage 2. Keselowski is still in first.

5:09 p.m. — Jimmie Johnson! He’s fighting for third with a huge surge.

5:07 p.m. — Five laps to go in Stage 2. Keselowski in the lead.

5 p.m. — Here are some visuals on that incident.

4:58 p.m. —  The drivers, understandably, are upset with that.

4:56 p.m. — Huge moment here, folks.

4:51 p.m. — Aric Almirola is the lowest-ranked playoff driver right now. He’s in 19th place.

4:50 p.m. — Halfway through this one!

4:44 p.m. — Truex Jr. is in the lead with 33 laps remaining in Stage 2. He’s probably been the most consistent driver today.

4:42 p.m. — It’s the little things that add up.

4:37 p.m. — With 45 laps to go in Stage 2, Kyle Busch had to go back down pit road.

4:33 p.m. — Another caution amid a chaotic Stage 2.

4:31 p.m. — Dillon, working without his normal crew chief, continues to endure a frustrating afternoon.

4:25 p.m. — It’s been a quiet day for Jimmie Johnson, but he’s cracked the top-10 with 60 laps to go in Stage 2.

4:22 p.m. —  Here’s the restart order.

4:18 p.m. — Second caution of the day.

4:16 p.m. — Truex Jr. is in first and Bowman is in second.

4:12 p.m. — Penalty on Ricky Stenhouse.

4:08 p.m. — Denny Hamlin is not enjoying himself.

4:05 p.m. — We’re through Stage 1! It’s been a pretty clean race so far, running caution free. Here’s your top 10.

4:01 p.m. — Tire issue for Larson.

4 p.m. — Ten laps left in Stage 1. Truex Jr., Harvick and Larson make up the top three. Bowman is up to fifth.

3:57 p.m. —  More changes near the top!

3:52 p.m. — With 23 laps to go in Stage 1, Alex Bowman continues to impress. After barely making the playoffs, he’s in seventh place.

3:51 p.m. —  Martin Truex Jr. is in second.

3:49 p.m. — Thirty laps to go in Stage 1 and Harvick is in control.

3:45 p.m. — An update following those pit stops.

3:42 p.m. — First round of pit stops on lap 36.

3:41 p.m. — Kurt Busch enters the picture on lap 31.

3:35 p.m. — Logano and Kyle Busch are neck-and-neck here at the front. Harvick is up to third.

3:34 p.m. — Potential issue for Chase Elliott.

3:30 p.m. — Here’s your top-5 from the first 15 laps.

3:27 p.m. — Through the first 10 laps Sunday afternoon, Logano, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones lead the way in that order. Jimmie Johnson is back in 18th place. Austin Dillon, who started from the rear, is in 22nd.

3:25 p.m. — Logano and Kyle Busch have the early lead as we enter lap 6.

3:22 p.m. — And we’re off!

3:19 p.m. — This one’s almost underway, folks. Buckle in.

3:04 p.m. — Here are the starting positions.

2:42 p.m. — Perhaps it’s a little too hot here.

2:36 p.m. — There is a crew chief switch for Austin Dillon, who is the playoffs for the third straight year.

2:33 p.m. — Drivers and fans greet each other during pre-race festivities.