SPARTA, Ky. – Brad Keselowski leaned on pure power provided by a brand new No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge to lead the final 131 of 133 laps en route to taking his first career Kentucky Speedway victory by 1.180 seconds over Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Nationwide Series “Feed The Children 300” in front of 52,000 fans tonight.
The Rochester, Mich., driver jousted with Kevin Harvick and his No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc., Chevrolet through the first quarter of the race before gaining the upper hand for good on Lap 68 by taking the lead from Joe Nemechek, who kept his No. 87 NEMCO Racing car on the track following the second of five caution periods of the night on Lap 66.
Keselowski muscled up from that point, survived three caution periods in the closing 99 laps and a fuel scare during a series track record 64-lap green flag run to the finish line that brought him his first NNS victory of the season along with his seventh top five and 11th top-10 finish.
He ended the night having lead a race-high 132 laps and now owns four top-five NNS Kentucky finishes in as many starts.
“This car was awesome. The boys at Penske Racing spent some extra hours on it and it feels good. I think we got more in the hopper. To see this team start coming along feels great.
“The guys at Discount Tire have been behind me, supporting me. They made this program possible so we could win the championship last year. (We) got banned from it this year, so now we’re just out here having fun.
“If you keep doing the right things long enough, you will be rewarded and today was a day of reward. I can’t wait to see a bunch of the Discount Tire guys this week bring them home a trophy,” Keselowski said.
Harvick brought home his third NNS top-five and fourth top-10 finish of season in his ninth start. The winner of the inaugural Kentucky Speedway 300-mile NNS event closed out his second top-five and third top-10 series finish in his third overall series start at the track and his first since 2006.
He also battled tight fuel mileage down the stretch as well as a bit of confusion from the pit box regarding the right time to take his final pit stop of the race.
“I knew I had a good lap to two laps that I had saved under caution because I came right out of the pits (on lap 138) and started saving gas. They never told me on the radio that I needed to do anything until eight or nine laps to go. We just have to learn to race better,” Harvick said.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch followed up last night’s Kentucky Speedway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series “UNOH 225” victory with a third-place showing that marked his third career top-five NNS finish in the commonwealth. He additionally charted his 11th top-five and 12th top-10 series finish of the season in his 14th start.
Kasey Kahne crossed the “Feed The Children 300” finish line fourth with his first career Kentucky NNS start and Elliott Sadler closed out his series track debut with a fifth-place showing.
Sadler picked up his ninth top-five and 13th top-10 finish of the season along with the series points lead. He will hold a four-point advantage over Reed Sorenson when teams arrive at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a July 16 race.
“That’s what great teams do-what championship caliber race teams do. We had a track bar mount issue that was rubbing the inside of the right rear tire. We came in, took the time to fix it, and a great call by (Crew Chief) Ernie (Cope) and the guys to stay out for pit strategy at the end.
“Great run for our OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Great first time at Kentucky. It’s not the win that we wanted, but it was a great Top 5 finish and far as the big picture is concerned, great for us,” Sadler said.
Kentucky Speedway parking lots open at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow for “Quaker State 400” race day. Fans can enjoy shopping and interactive displays on the display midway before gates open at 2:00 p.m. Country music artist Clay Walker takes the prerace concert stage at 5:00 p.m., and the 43-car “Quaker State 400” field will rumble to life just after 7:30 p.m. in front of a sellout crowd.
Standing room only tickets can be purchased at the speedway gates.