Brad Keselowski was the class of the field on Saturday in the Sta-Green 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as he led 152 laps and was able to become the first pole winner of the season to also win the race. It was the second win of the 2014 season for Keselowski and the 29th of his career in the Nationwide Series.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford held off Kyle Busch late in the race. Busch was Keselowski's main competition throughout the 200 lap race.
"It was actually very hard fought there at the end," said Keselowski in victory lane. "I think Kyle was just a little bit faster…I didn't think I was going to be able to hold him off."
Busch's charge to try to win was slowed on lap 188 when he and the lap car of James Buescher made some contact.
Finishing in third behind Keselowski and Busch was Matt Kenseth. Kyle Larson finished fourth, rookie Chris Buescher fifth, Elliott Sadler sixth, and Brian Scott seventh. Rookie Chase Elliott could not get past Scott late and finished eighth with Trevor Bayne ninth, Regan Smith tenth, and rookie Ryan Reed 11th as the last lead lap car.
Four drivers were vying for the $100,000 Nationwide Dash4Cash bonus by being the highest finishing driver. Regan Smith earned the money in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet with his tenth place finish. Ryan Reed came up just short in 11th. Ryan Sieg finished 18th and Jeremy Clements 20th.
Qualifying for next week's shot at the $100,000 Dash4Cash money were Smith, and then the top three Nationwide Series championship eligible drivers. They were Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler, and Brian Scott.
Brad Keselowski started from the pole but Kyle Busch passed him on the inside on lap 1 in Turn 2. On lap 4 rookie Dylan Kwasniewski made contact into Trevor Bayne when his car got loose and on lap 5 the first caution flew when Trevor Bayne spun due to a flat left-rear tire from the contact. Bayne would loose a lap.
The race restarted on lap 10 and a few laps later Brendan Gaughan made contact with the outside wall of Turn 4. On the lap 13 the second caution flew for the stopped car of Josh Wise. The mechanical issue forced him to finish 38th of the 40 cars. Bayne got the free pass back onto the lead lap.
Jake Crum ran out of gas on lap 76 and coasted to pit road. He finished in 31st. Chase Elliott also coasted to pit road without power on lap 81 and had trouble getting his car refired which put him a lap down during the green flag pit cycle. Keselowski and Busch pitted on lap 83 which gave the lead to Trevor Bayne but Keselowski would pass Bayne for the lead on lap 85 and then Bayne pitted on lap 86.
The third caution flew on lap 93 for debris. There were only eight cars on the lead lap and Ryan Reed got the free pass in ninth.
On the lap 98 restart Kyle Larson got into second and Kyle Busch dropped to fifth. At lap 100 the top five was Keselowski, Larson, Kenseth, Sadler, and Busch.
On lap 102 Chase Elliott got into Paul Menard which forced Menard into the outside wall off Turn 4. His car had significant damage on the right-rear and the fourth caution period came out. Menard would end up finishing in 19th after being on the lead lap at the time of the incident. Trevor Bayne got the free pass once again to get back on the lead lap. Also Kyle Busch was the only lead lap car to pit under the caution.
On the lap 107 restart Kyle Larson took the lead from Keselowski in Turn 1 and coming off Turn 2 the caution was displayed for the fifth time, this time for a multi-car accident. Brian Scott got into the back of Elliott Sadler off Turn 2 and sent Sadler into a spin. Scott was then tagged from behind by Ryan Preece and Austin Theriault and also spun. James Buescher made some contact into Scott and Mike Bliss and Dakoda Armstrong also were collected. Everyone would continue except for Bliss. Armstrong also had a lot of damage and finished 30th and Bliss was 32nd. Chris Buescher got the free pass on this caution.
The race restarted on lap 113 and Larson held the lead. On lap 115 Ty Dillon was trying to position himself for the next free pass but got loose under the lead lap car of Ryan Reed and almost wrecked both of them. At the front of the field Brad Keselowski took the lead from Larson on lap 119.
The sixth caution flew on lap 139 for debris in Turn 3. The top five at the time was Keselowski, Busch, Kenseth, Larson, and Smith. Chase Elliott got the free pass and the cars of Brendan Gaughan, Landon Cassill, Austin Theriault, JJ Yeley, and James Buescher took the wave around to make it 16 lead lap cars.
Chris Buescher stayed on track to inherit the lead and off pit road Keselowski was ahead of Busch and Kenseth as those three drivers took two tires. Brian Scott took no tires to restart in fifth, and Kyle Larson took four tires to restart from sixth on lap 146.
Keselowski immediately took the lead and Chris Buescher dropped to fourth by the end of the first lap. From there the race ran green and the fight for the lead was heating up as Keselowski and Busch caught JJ Yeley and James Buescher. Keselowski got by both on lap 188 and Busch knew he had to stick with him and off Turn 2 got into the back of Buescher which almost caused Buescher to loose control and crash into Busch down the backstretch.
The near miss did cost Busch time though to Keselowski. On lap 197 James Buescher ran out of gas and on lap 198 another wave around car also ran out of gas. The caution did not come out as Buescher and Austin Theriault were able to get to pit road.
Keselowski then cruised to his second win of the season and Busch finished second. Other notables in the field included Ty Dillon in 12th, Dylan Kwasniewski 13th, Ryan Preece 14th, Landon Cassill 15th as the last car one lap down. Brendan Gaughan was 16th, JJ Yeley 17th, Austin Theriault 21st, and James Buescher 22nd. Brennan Newberry made his Nationwide Series debut driving for Viva Motorsports and finished in 24th.
Regan Smith continues to lead the points by eight over Elliott Sadler and 13 over Chase Elliott. Ty Dillon is 34 points back in fourth and Brian Scott is 51 points back in fifth. Trevor Bayne is sixth, Brendan Gaughan seventh, Chris Buescher eighth, James Buescher ninth, and Ryan Reed tenth.
The next race on the schedule is Saturday night, July 19th at Chicagoland Speedway.Tags: Brad Keselowski, Brian Scott, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Motorsports, NASCAR Nationwide Series, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Regan Smith, Ryan Reed, Sta-Green 200, Team Penske