It seemed as there were no other drivers on the track Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Brad Keselowski absolutely stole the show as he held control for most of the afternoon. The win was his second in two days at “The Magic Mile” as he won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in similar fashion on Saturday.
The Keselowski of late has returned to championship form. This is evident in the stellar past month the No. 2 team has had as they continue to show their prowess each and every week.
The first third of the Camping World RV Sales 301 was the only time in which Keselowski was not up front. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin held the top spot for the first 89 laps. Eventually, Keselowski gained top spot on Lap 90.
Through a mix of strategy, a variety of different competitors held the lead on the many restarts the race witnessed. However, it would only be 30 or so laps before the No. 2 car made it back to the front. The only time the yellow-flag flew and he was not up front was the first time on Lap 14.
Along with his Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano had a fast car. His great run was cut short however, when the lapped car of Morgan Shepherd made contact with him entering Turn 3 and both spun and hit the wall.
Following the wreck, Logano said “I got taken out by the slowest car out there. You would think there would be some courtesy to the leaders. We were in second place. He gets out of the way on the straightaway and then goes into the corner and slides right up into the lane I was in… It is just dumb that it happened. I feel like that should be stuff that shouldn’t happen at this level of racing.”
As the race neared its conclusion, most leaders feared another caution. Their fears became true with four laps remaining as Justin Allgaier backed into the wall.
Many had been playing the fuel mileage game and the strategy backfired under this yellow-flag. Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon were among those who ran their tanks empty and gave up a couple of the top spots.
On the restart, Kevin Harvick ran out of gas from the second position. This allowed Keselowski to pull away and Kyle Busch to move into second. Despite his best efforts, Busch couldn’t catch Keselowski. Earning the No. 18 team their third straight runner-up finish at New Hampshire.
When asked about his dominant day, Keselowski said “Where do I start? The team was just really on it today. It really feels like we hit our stride.”
In addition, he said “This was just such a phenomenal weekend, and these don’t happen that often, and that’s what makes it special, and you try to appreciate them and enjoy them and hope that there’s more but not count on it, because these are big deals, winning races at the Sprint Cup level, sweeping a weekend, and it’s all possible because of the hard work and effort from everyone at Team Penske.”
Keselowski’s victory was well-earned as he clearly had the strongest car in the field. The momentum his team is building could very well play in their favor once the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.
For the final time this season, the Sprint Cup Series cars will rest next weekend. Once they return in two weeks, one of the most prestigious events of the season will take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Results via ESPN.com
|9||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||305||22||0||35||0||0|
|10||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||305||28||0||34||0||0|
|12||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||305||9||0||32||0||0|