Keselowski outruns Busch for Nationwide win at N.H.
07/12/2014 5:41 PM
07/12/2014 7:26 PM
Loudon, NH (SportsNetwork.com) - Brad Keselowski put on a dominating performance and held off Kyle Busch to win Saturday's Sta-Green 200 Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Keselowski started on the pole and led 152 of 200 laps before beating Busch to the finish line by 1.9 seconds to win a Nationwide event at New Hampshire for the second time. His first victory here came in 2012.
It was just the second win for Keselowski in the series this season. In March, Keselowski won the Nationwide race at Las Vegas. The Team Penske driver also scored the victory in the Sprint Cup Series event there the following day for a weekend-sweep. In his last Nationwide start two weeks ago at Kentucky, Keselowski started on the pole and led 138 of the first 148 laps but was penalized for speeding off of pit road. He ended up finishing second to Kevin Harvick in that race.
"This is really satisfying," Keselowski said of his victory. "This team has deserved to win a few races, and things just haven't quite gone their way. It's nice to put it together here at Loudon [New Hampshire] with a strong car and great team. Loudon is one of my favorite places to go race."
Keselowski earned his 29th career win, which moved him into sole possession of sixth on the series' all-time race winners list.
Earlier in the day, Keselowski beat Busch for the pole in the closing seconds of Nationwide qualifying. He also posted the fastest laps in both Sprint Cup practice sessions, held prior to the Nationwide race. Keselowski will start seventh in Sunday's 301-lap Sprint Cup event here.
"What a hell of a Saturday," he said. "I am going to need a little time to soak it in. It has been a really busy day, and sometimes on these really busy days, you get so caught up in the action that you really can't appreciate all that has transpired."
Busch passed Keselowski for the lead on the opening lap of the race and then ran in front for the first 34 laps. Keselowski moved ahead of him on lap 35 and took command from there. Busch will start on the pole for the Sprint Cup event after setting a new track qualifying record on Friday.
"It would have been nice to win and steal a checkered flag, but it just wasn't meant to be here today," Busch said. "We fought hard there at the end. We had the best run there at the end with our race car."
Keselowski joined Busch as the only drivers who have multiple Nationwide victories at this flat 1.058-mile track. Busch has four wins here, including last year's race.
Matt Kenseth finished third, while Kyle Larson placed fourth. Chris Buescher was fifth.
Regan Smith's 10th-place finish earned him a $100,000 bonus for being the highest-finisher among the four drivers who were qualified for the first race in Nationwide Insurance's "Dash 4 Cash" bonus program. Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements also had eligibility for the cash award.
"We struggled a lot with the car today," Smith said. "The only point where I was happy with it was when I had a little bit of clean air up towards the front there, so we've got some work to do.
"We've run really good in a lot of these 'Dash 4 Cash' races and have never been a part of them. So I'm happy to be a part of this one, and I'm happy to win it."
This was the first time Smith, Reed, Sieg and Clements participated in the Dash 4 Cash. Reed finished one position behind Smith in 11th.
"I gave [Smith] too much room through [turns] 1 and 2 on that last restart, and he got me really loose up top," Reed said. "I hate that we didn't give him more of a battle there."
Sieg finished 18th and Clements 20th.
Smith qualified for the next Dash 4 Cash race, which is July 19 at Chicagoland. Fifth-place finisher Buescher, sixth-place Elliott Sadler and seventh-place Brian Scott qualified for the next bonus as well.
Smith also remained atop the championship point standings. His lead is eight points over Sadler and 13 ahead of rookie Chase Elliott, his teammate at JR Motorsports. Elliott finished eighth.