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Keselowski Wins Drive For The Cure 300 At Charlotte Motor Speedway

Keselowski Wins Drive For The Cure 300 At Charlotte Motor Speedway

by October 11, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas

CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski drove to victory in the Drive for the Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, tying NASCAR Hall of Famer, Jack Ingram for fifth on the all-time wins list in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The win is Keselowski’s fourth of the 2014 season. He led on two occasions for 22 laps en route to the victory. Keselowski has finished inside the top-five in all nine starts this year, making his average finish 1.9.

“It was a night of adversity to start,” Keselowski said. “We didn’t quite qualify the way we wanted to, but we thought for sure we’d race really well. That first run in the race it wasn’t looking like that was gonna happen and we all got really nervous. Then we lost a tire and hit the wall and thought this was gonna be a real downward spiral. Jeremy and the crew hat’s off to them because they got us back in it with good strategy and a can-do attitude and we got back on sequence, got our laps back and got in a position where we were even on tires at the end with the right adjustments in the car and a fast pit stop and from there it was just in my hands to execute the restarts and execute a few key passes and we were able to make that happen and that’s how we got to victory lane today.”

Kyle Busch posted his 22nd top-10 finish of 2014 as he crossed the line in the second position. Busch led twice for 34 laps. Although Busch has been dominate in the series this season, he didn’t take the lead until lap 121 when he made a daring, three-wide move entering turn one. On the final restart when the field went back to green on lap 181, Busch restarted fourth and was eventually able to make his way by Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney to capture the runner-up finish.

“They were faster than us tonight,” Busch said. “Just knew that with about 60 (laps) to go that we had a tire advantage over them and that was going to be the way for us to win the race. But, bizarre debris cautions always ruin those things for you. It’s a shame. I don’t feel bad for us and the team. I feel bad for the Breast Cancer Champions that were here with us tonight. Just to give them a little more something to celebrate in their life. And weren’t able to do it.”

Leading 52 laps, second most of any driver on Saturday night, Matt Kenseth was able to bring home a solid third place finish. Kenseth led lap 9 to lap 60, but that was it. However, he stayed well within the top-10 all night, and he feels that Joe Gibbs Racing provided him with one of the strongest cars he has had all season long.

“Our GameStop Toyota was really pretty good all night,” Kenseth said. “We just had one restart where we were on kind of used tires and I just couldn’t hold my track position very good and got behind. Just hard to get runs — you don’t have a lot of power, it’s hard to get runs and be able to pass there. That was probably the best car I’ve had all year. It was fun to be competitive. I wish we could have got the win here, but it was a fun race.”

The race saw eight cautions with the first one coming out on the initial start. The field stacked up once the green flag flew, causing an 11-car pile-up before reaching turn one. Following the massive crash on the start of the race, Cale Conely hit the wall, bringing out the caution on lap 18.

“It was just a frustrating couple of events there that happened and got us in the garage here,” Conely said. “We had put ourselves in a really good position qualifying, being in the top-12. The initial start was really good. We gained a couple of spots through the middle of the corner, and the caution came out, and I think we ran over something with the right front, so we had a right front flat a few laps into the next restart. Hit the wall, the caution came out again.”

On lap 76, the caution came out for the fourth time for another massive pile-up along the frontstretch. The wreck occurred when Corey LaJoie, Dakoda Armstrong, Ty Dillon and Eric McClure tried to go four wide though the tri-oval. Six cars were involved, bringing out the red flag for 7:17 minutes. Most notably, Ty Dillon came into the event third in points and after being caught up in the accident, he falls back to fifth, 64 points back from point leader, Chase Elliott.

“We went three or four laps down, and came in and fixed the damage – rolled back out – really had some really good lap times running the wall, you know right there in the top-15, top-10 pace, so we were just trying to search for some wave arounds and get ourselves back on the lead lap so we could go race it out,” Conely said. “When we needed a caution, we were in the caution. We had nowhere to go. We shouldn’t have ever been back there to begin with.”

The final caution of the night came out on lap 177 when Ryan Sieg got into the back on Brendan Gaughan exiting turn two. Gaughan was able to save his car, but Ross Chastain and Corey LaJoie were caught up in the accident. LaJoie took a hard hit to the inside wall on the backstretch.

On the restart, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski led the field down to the green flag. Keselowski was able to make his way around his Team Penske teammate to score his third win and 11th top-10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I was confident when the yellow was out I’d be able to get by him (Ryan Blaney), and then he took off those first five laps and I went, ‘Uh oh’,” Keselowski said. “I wasn’t holding back and he was driving away. And then the pendulum swung and his car seemed to fall off and whether that was the two tires or just the nature of his car I don’t know, but it came back to us. When the yellow was out I would have definitely said I was very confident, but I wasn’t the first five laps and then it swung back to us.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will be at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 1 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. The race will be live on ESPN 2 and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Drive for the Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Results:
1.) #22 Brad Keselowski
2.) #54 Kyle Busch
3.) #20 Matt Kenseth
4.) #12 Ryan Blaney
5.) #42 Kyle Larson
6.) #60 Chris Buescher
7.) #6 Trevor Bayne
8.) #9 Chase Elliott
9.) #11 Elliott Sadler
10.) #2 Brian Scott
11.) #7 Regan Smith
12.) #5 Alex Bowman
13.) #39 Ryan Sieg
14.) #31 Dylan Kwasniewski
15.) #16 Ryan Reed
16.) #62 Brendan Gaughan
17.) #01 Landon Cassill
18.) #19 Mike Bliss
19.) #43 Dakoda Armstrong
20.) #10 David Starr
21.) #80 Ross Chastain
22.) #51 Jeremy Clements
23.) #93 Kevin Swindell
24.) #98 Corey LaJoie
25.) #70 Derrike Cope
26.) #52 Joey Gase
27.) #55 Jamie Dick
28.) #84 Chad Boat
29.) #23 Carlos Contreras
30.) #3 Ty Dillon
31.) #99 James Buescher
32.) #14 Eric McClure
33.) #33 Cale Conley
34.) #87 Timmy Hill
35.) #91 Jeff Green
36.) #40 Matt DiBenedetto
37.) Tanner Berryhill
38.) #44 Will Kimmel III
39.) #28 JJ Yeley
40.) #4 Jeffrey Earnhardt

NASCAR Nationwide Series Top-10 Driver Point Standings:
1.) #9 Chase Elliott
2.) #7 Regan Smith -42
3.) #2 Brian Scott -61
4.) #11 Elliott Sadler -63
5.) #3 Ty Dillon -64
6.) #6 Trevor Bayne -98
7.) #60 Chris Buescher -194
8.) #62 Brendan Gaughan -231
9.) #16 Ryan Reed -286
10.) #99 James Buescher -314

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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