One day after leading 152 of 200 laps in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Brad Keselowski led 138 of 305 laps and had the fastest car all day to complete the weekend sweep at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday by winning the Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The win is the third of the 2014 season for Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford.
The win for Keselowski now means that 13 different drivers have won in the last 13 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was the 13th win of Keselowski's career and the second time this season that he swept the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at a track this season in the same weekend.
"It's a privilege to have cars like this and a team that is just clicking," said Keselowski in victory lane.
Keselowski repeatedly throughout the race had to work his way back to the head after pit stops but did so successfully every time. He also survived a green-white-checkered finish that extended the race to 305 laps instead of 301 and held off Kyle Busch who had a fuel gamble pay off for second place.
Kyle Busch started from the pole and got off to the early lead but the day hit an early end for second place starter Jimmie Johnson. On lap 7 Johnson pulled to pit road with a flat left-rear tire but his trouble just started there as on lap 13 he blew the new left-rear tire and slammed the wall very hard in Turn 3. He finished 42nd only ahead of Mike Bliss in a fourth BK Racing entry that started and parked.
Denny Hamlin moved into the lead on lap 63 and on lap 66 Keselowski passed Busch for second. As green flag pit stops started on lap 73 the top five was Hamlin, Keselowski, Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray. Jeff Gordon had driven to as high as sixth but had dropped to the tail of the lead lap by the time he pitted and his crew realized he had a slow leak in his left-rear tire.
Hamlin pitted from the lead on lap 74 which gave the lead to Keselowski for the first time. He then pitted on lap 78 and Kyle Larson led one lap before pitting as did Kurt Busch. On lap 81 Hamlin had cycled back to the lead and Gordon was a lap down.
The second caution flew for debris on lap 112. Kyle Larson did not pit and took the race lead. Last week's winner at Daytona Aric Almirola was the free pass driver and Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick took the wave around to get back on the lead lap. Restarting in second on lap 119 behind Larson were eight cars that pitted and took two tires. They were Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, Logano, Harvick, McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Martin Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski restarted in tenth after taking four tires.
By lap 126 Keselowski was up to third. Kenseth took the lead from Larson on lap 127 and led until Keselowski passed him on lap 139. At the halfway mark in the race Keselowski led over Kenseth, Busch, Larson, and Logano.
The third caution then flew for debris on lap 153 and Jeff Burton got the free pass in what could be his last career start. The first seven cars off pit road took two tires. They were Logano, McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Earnhardt Jr, Truex Jr, and Harvick. Kyle Busch restarted eighth with four tires and Keselowski was 11th also with four tires.
On the lap 158 restart McMurray made contact into Logano in between Turns 1 and 2. Bowyer took advantage and came away with the lead. By lap 167 Keselowski was up to third and he took the lead from Bowyer on lap 175 right before the fourth caution flew for debris.
The race restarted on lap 182 as the lead cars all did not pit. By lap 200 Keselowski led over Logano, Bowyer, Hamlin, and Busch.
The fifth caution flew on lap 212 when 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd made a big mistake and got into Joey Logano's second place car getting into Turn 3. Logano backed hard into the wall ending his race with a 40th place finish.Timmy Hill had pulled off after 76 laps due to electrical issues and finished 41st for Indentity Ventures Racing. Shepherd would continue but finished 39th.
Pit stops occurred on lap 213 with Clint Boywer getting off with the lead after a two tire stop. Also McMurray, Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Kahne, and Larson took two tires and restarted ahead of Keselowski in seventh who took four tires. The restart happened on lap 219 and by lap 230 Keselowski passed Bowyer to take the lead once again.
When the sixth caution flew on lap 249 for debris he led over Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr, McMurray, and Gordon in the top five. This set up a split strategy as six drivers stayed out and were going to gamble that they could make the finish at lap 301 on fuel. They were Gordon, Hamlin, Harvick, Busch, Paul Menard, and Greg Biffle. Matt Kenseth restarted seventh after taking fuel only. Bowyer was eighth and Keselowski ninth with two new tires for the lap 254 restart.
Keselowski again stormed to the front and passed Gordon for the lead on lap 270. Hamlin passed Gordon for second on lap 282. It looked as if those making the fuel gamble were going to make the finish but on lap 297 with four laps to go the seventh caution flew when David Ragan got into Justin Allgaier and the rookie hit the wall hard. Allgaier would be done and finished 37th.
Hamlin's team had him pit from second as they knew they did not have fuel for the extra green-white-checkered laps. He restarted in 17th with eight other lead lap cars behind him that also pitted and put four fresh tires on. Up front it was Keselowski ahead of Gordon but Gordon ran out of fuel under the caution and was pushed to the pits by a truck as the field came to get the green. That put Harvick second, Bowyer third and Busch fourth for the restart on lap 304.
Harvick ran out of gas on the restart and stacked up the inside line. Keselowski got out to the lead with Busch chasing him but Brad Keselowski had the strongest car and Busch could not present a real challenge as Keselowski won his first career Cup race at New Hampshire's 1.058 mile track.
After the wild two last laps finished it was Clint Bowyer in sixth, Tony Stewart seventh, and Denny Hamlin had driven up to eighth from 17th. Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished ninth and Dale Earnhardt Jr tenth. Kasey Kahne was 11th, Martin Truex Jr 12th, Carl Edwards 13th, Austin Dillon 14th, Greg Biffle 15th, Jamie McMurray 16th, Kurt Busch 17th, AJ Allmendinger 18th, Paul Menard 19th, and Jeff Burton 20th. Brian Vickers was 21st, Danica Patrick 22nd, Aric Almirola 23rd, David Gilliland 24th, David Ragan 25th, and Jeff Gordon was the last lead lap car in 26th.
Marcos Ambrose was 27th, Cole Whitt 28th, Josh Wise 29th, and Kevin Harvick 30th. Alex Bowman was 31st, Michael Annett 32nd, Reed Sorenson 33rd, Landon Cassill 34th, and Eddie MacDonald finished 35th in his first Sprint Cup Series start. Ryan Truex finished 36th and Casey Mears 38th.
After 19 races and with only seven left until the 16 driver Chase Grid is set here are the 16 drivers currently in the Chase. Brad Keselowski has three wins and is third in points to be the top seed. Jimmie Johnson has three wins and is fifth in points. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick have two wins each. Then comes Jeff Gordon who is the points leader and has one win. Also with one win are Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, and Kurt Busch. That leaves five spots to be given based on points. Matt Kenseth in fourth, Ryan Newman seventh, Clint Bowyer tenth, Paul Menard 11th, and Kyle Larson 14th hold those spots.
Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, and Tony Stewart are all within 22 points of the final spot that Larson holds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has next week off before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Brickyard 400 on July 27th.Tags: Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, matt kenseth, Morgan Shepherd, Motorsports, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, New Hampshire Motor Speedway