Brad Keselowski had the best car on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway and brought the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford to victory lane in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. The win is the sixth of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season in 14 races for Keselowski and the 26th of his career.
"It feels good to get it done today with this team," Keselowski said in victory lane. "The team did an awesome job and Penske Racing is back in victory lane."
The win was the 12th overall for the No. 22 team in 2013. Joey Logano has won three times, AJ Allmendinger twice, and Ryan Blaney once to add to Keselowski's wins in the car. The win coupled with Kyle Busch crashing in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has given the No. 22 team a 26 point lead in the owner points with two races left in the season.
The race started with Alex Bowman on his second career pole and he led the first three laps before fading. Sam Hornish Jr took the lead on lap 4 but that was short lived as Keselowski took the lead on lap 6. He would stretch his lead to over four seconds before the first pit stops.
The running order when green flag stops began on lap 48 was Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Hornish Jr, Austin Dillon, and Matt Kenseth. Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr pitted on lap 51 but Hornish Jr hit the commitment cone entering the pits and he had to do a pass through penalty which put him a lap down. Brad Keselowski pitted from the lead on lap 52 and Austin Dillon finished the round of stops on lap 54.
After the stops the running order was Kesleowski, Busch, Kenseth, Dillon, and Regan Smith. The first caution would fly on lap 71 due to debris in Turn 2. Keselowski had lapped all the way to 11th place but Parker Kligerman got the free pass and Sam Hornish Jr and seven other drivers took the wave around to get back on the lead lap as well.
Keselowski, Busch, Dillon, and Trevor Bayne restarted in the top four spots after taking fuel only but others took tires for the lap 76 restart. By lap 81 it was Denny Hamlin, who was subbing for Brian Vickers in the JGR No. 20 car, who moved to the lead with fresh tires and Matt Kenseth took second and Brian Scott third. Then on lap 96 Kenseth took the lead from Hamlin.
The second caution would come out on lap 110 when Kyle Busch had a right-rear tire blow. He backed his car into the outside wall off Turn 4 and would end up losing three laps while his crew made repairs. Busch finished four laps down in 26th. The caution came at the perfect time to keep Sam Hornish Jr on the lead lap.
Denny Hamlin's crew got him the lead after pit stops and Matt Kenseth lined up second with Brian Scott third, Kyle Larson fourth, and Ty Dillon fifth for the lap 117 restart. Keselowski was seventh and back on even tires.
Hamlin held the lead until lap 131 when Kenseth went back out front. Brad Keselowski took second on lap 148 and with 50 laps to go the top five was Kenseth, Keselowski, Hamlin, Scott, and Elliott Sadler. Keselowski would take the lead on lap 156 from Kenseth and then green flag stops started on lap 161 as some lead lap cars tried to short pit the leaders.
Keselowski, Kenseth and Hamlin all pitted on lap 170 and the top two had issues. Keselowski's team had jack trouble on the left side while Kenseth's crew dropped a lug nut on the right rear tire change. Hamlin's team took advantage and he exited with the lead.
The third caution would fly shortly after on lap 171 when Trevor Bayne spun Joe Nemechek off Turn 2. Nemechek hit the inside wall and finished in 33rd. No one would pit and Hamlin and Keselowski were on the front row for the lap 177 restart.
Keselowski led by a nose at the line on that lap but Hamlin retook the lead on lap 178 right before the fourth caution flew when Travis Pastrana got into Jeff Green and spun off Turn 2. He hit the inside wall hard ending his race with a 31st place finish.
Again it was Hamlin and Keselowski left to battle on the lap 183 restart and Keselowski led by a nose again at the completion of lap 183. Hamlin passed him on lap 184 but Keselowski ran him back down and made the winning pass on lap 186.
From there he drove away from Hamlin to win his first race at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski led a race high 106 laps.
Finishing second was Denny Hamlin with Sam Hornish Jr third, Matt Kenseth fourth, and Austin Dillon fifth. Regan Smith finished sixth, Elliott Sadler seventh, Brian Scott eighth, Kyle Larson ninth, and Brad Sweet rounded out the top ten. Trevor Bayne was 11th, Ty Dillon 12th, Parker Kligerman 13th, Michael Annett 14th, Nelson Piquet Jr 15th and Kevin Swindell was the last lead lap car in 16th. Ricky Stenhouse Jr was 17th, Alex Bowman 18th, Justin Allgaier 19th, and Cole Whitt 20th.
With two races in the season left Austin Dillon holds a six point lead over Sam Hornish Jr in the Nationwide driver standings. Regan Smith is 48 points back in third. Elliott Sadler is fourth, Justin Allgaier fifth, Brian Scott sixth, Trevor Bayne seventh, Brian Vickers eighth, Kyle Larson ninth, and Parker Kligerman tenth.
The ServiceMaster 200 at Phoenix International Raceway is next up on Saturday, November 9th.
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