Keselowski Conquers Las Vegasby Kyle Pokrefky March 8, 2014 0 comments
Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — After clearing several major late-race hurdles, Brad Keselowski claimed victory in the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
It took narrowly avoiding a spinning Matt Kenseth and managing to keep a failing alternator alive during the late stages of the race to claim the victory. The win is the Rochester Hills, Mich. native’s 28th career Nationwide Series victory and first ever win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in any of NASCAR’s top-three series.
For Keselowski, the victory feels like sweet redemption after coming so agonizingly close to winning the 2011 race after puncturing a tire and losing the lead on the final lap three years ago.
“We found every way we could to make it hard,” Keselowski spoke of the adversity he faced during the race. “This Ford was flying today. These races aren’t getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could, every lap.”
And drive hard is just what he did – Keselowski led 144 of the 200 scheduled laps to take the checkered flag over a hard-charging Kyle Busch.
After being sent to the back of the grid for the start due to an unapproved adjustment post-qualifying, Busch rocketed his way up the grid from the rear of the field to finish second at his home track. Busch was visibly frustrated after climbing out of his No. 54 Monster Energy Camry at the conclusion of the race, he believed he had the car to beat.
“I don’t know what caused us to lose the lead,” Busch said. “That was unfortunate. I think that was the race. Our car was super fast on the long run when guys would get their tires hot and use up everything. You could see guys hang with us for about 10-20 laps and from about 30 laps on, it was me better than the rest.”
Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott put in an outstanding performance on his way to a fifth-place result. His quick reflexes to avoid Kenseth’s Lap 160 spin and ability to race the Cup drivers hard impressed many throughout the race, including team owner and fellow competitor Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“It gives us a mindset that we can run up front,” Elliott spoke of his first career Nationwide Series top-five. “I knew these cars were capable of doing it. I knew it was just a matter of me getting it done for these guys.”
A total of five cautions were brought out during Saturday’s race – two for debris, two for spins by Kenseth and Ryan Sieg, and one for Las Vegas native Dylan Kwasniewski lightly backing his No. 31 Camaro into the wall in turns three and four.The race featured plenty of long green flag runs, the longest being a 74-lap run during the middle of the race. The pace that the leaders set was so blisteringly quick that by Lap 130 there were only seven cars on the lead lap. At that same point, all drivers below 10th position were down two or more laps.
The points battle at the top of the driver’s standings continues to intensify as Trevor Bayne was able to chip two points off of Regan Smith’s points lead. Smith remains the points leader heading into next week’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Boyd Gaming 300 – Top-10 Finishers
- 22 – Brad Keselowski(i) – Ford – Team Penske
- 54 – Kyle Busch(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 42 – Kyle Larson (i) – Chevrolet – Turner-Scott Motorsports
- 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
- 9 – Chase Elliott# – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
- 20 – Matt Kenseth(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 2 – Brian Scott – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
- 6 – Trevor Bayne – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
- 60 – Chris Buescher# – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
- 7 – Regan Smith – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
(i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Nationwide Series points.
# = Rookie.
Nationwide Series Driver Standings after Round 3 of 33
- 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 117 | Leader | –
- 6 – Trevor Bayne – Roush-Fenway Racing – 114 | -3 | –
- 11 – Elliott Sadler – Joe Gibbs Racing – 108 | -9 | –
- 3 – Ty Dillon# – Richard Childress Racing – 105 | -12 | –
- 9 – Chase Elliott# – JR Motorsports – 103 | -14 | +2
- 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 97 | -20 | +2
- 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 94 | -23 | -1
- 31 – Dylan Kwasniewski# – Turner-Scott Motorsports – 87 | -30 | -3
- 99 – James Buescher – RAB Racing – 86 | -31 | –
- 19 – Mike Bliss – TriStar Motorsports – 81 | -36 | +1
# = Rookie.