Keselowski "Redd Lines" with First New Hampshire Sprint Cup Series Victory
LOUDON, N.H. - Team Penske's Brad Keselowski had his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rivals seeing red Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while he was leading 138 of 305 race laps in his No. 2 Redd's Apple Ale Ford Fusion en route to earning a 0.750 of a second, green-white-checkered flag victory ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch.
Keselowski's first NSCS NHMS victory is his third this season and ties him with defending and six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson for season lead in series victories.
"The Redd's Apple Ale Ford Fusion was haulin' all day. It is every drivers dream. Every once in a while you get these cars and you are thankful and try like hell to not screw them up," Keselowski said after collecting his ninth top-five and 10th top-10 finish of the season.
He's earned top-three finishes in five of the past seven NSCS events, including his June 28 Kentucky Speedway Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts victory.
The No. 2 Team Penske crew displayed confidence throughout the race after starting seventh. Crew chief Paul Wolfe and Keselowski continuously chose to sacrifice track position during caution and green-flag pit stops by calling for four new tires while their nearest competition made two-tire stops to beat the No. 2 off pit road. The No. 2 team broke trend once when it took two tires on its final pit stop.
"It was just a lot of fun drivin' through all this traffic and havin' fun," Keselowski said.
Keselowski's machine had enough horsepower to race through the field following each stop and passed Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon for the top spot for the seventh and final time on Lap 270.
The No. 2 was comfortably in front of the field when Justin Allgaier's No. 51 HScott Motorsports car spun in Turn 4 and brought out the race's seventh caution flag on Lap 299, setting up the NSCS's fifth green-white-checkered flag in 19 races this season.
Keselowski did not pit during Allgaier's caution, placing pressure on the dwindling fuel reserves of second-place Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon, third-place Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick, fourth-place Michael Waltrip Racing driver Clint Bowyer and the fifth-place Busch.
The No. 2 restarted strong on Lap 304 and Busch quickly moved to second-place as Gordon's No. 24, Harvick's No. 4 and Bowyer's No. 15 ran low on fuel and quickly fell out of winning contention.
Busch pressed Keselowski, but Busch was unable to was unable to work his No. 18 into a position to pass and settled for second place.
"Should have been anywhere from fourth to sixth, but we made a gutsy call there at the end to stay out and see if we can make it on fuel -- barely made it, ran out right at the start-finish. We couldn't have timed it more perfect.
"I don't think anybody did (have enough to challenge Brad Keselowski). Denny (Hamlin) was the best (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) car, so he probably had a better shot at him than any of us did, but it seemed like he stalled out in third there on that last run trying to get up there. Denny made up some good ground. I couldn't do that. Unfortunately, they felt like they were too short and had to pit," Busch said.
He placed second for the second time in his past three starts. He's banked five top-five and eight top-10 finishes this season.
Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Kyle Larson finished third, JGR's Matt Kenseth took fourth and Richard Childress Racing's Ryan Newman rounded out the race top five.
Gordon continues to lead the series standings after being credited with a 26th-place finish after his fuel mileage gamble fell short. He will start the June 27 series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a 12-point edge on Hendrick Motorsports' Dale Earnhardt Jr., who picked up his 13th top-10 finish of the season with a 10th-place effort.
Keselowski moved from fourth to third in the standings and trails Gordon by 36 points. He currently holds the top Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup seed with seven races before the 16-driver elimination championship format begins at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 14.
- Kentucky Speedway -