Brad Keselowski hoists the trophy after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday. (AP Photo/Larry Papke)
FORT WORTH, Texas — Brad Keselowski raced to his sixth Nationwide victory in his last eight starts, leading 106 of 200 laps at Texas to give Roger Penske’s No. 22 car the lead in the owners’ standings.
For the drivers’ title, Sam Hornish Jr. overcame being a lap down early in the race to finish third and cut his deficit behind Austin Dillon from eight points to six with two races left in the season. Dillon finished fifth.
“We did what we could do. We took care of ourselves,” Hornish said. “We came back when it didn’t look like we would gain points for quite a bit of the race. ... If we can take one or two off the following weekend that puts the pressure on him. He doesn’t just have to finish within a couple spots of us then, he will have to beat us.”
With the win in the No. 22 Ford, Keselowski put Penske back in the lead in the owners’ standings, 26 points ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 54 Toyota. Keselowski finished nearly a second ahead of Denny Hamlin.
Keselowski has 26 career Nationwide wins.
The No. 22 car has been to Victory Lane 12 times this season, with wins also by Joey Logano (three), AJ Allmendinger (two) and Ryan Blaney (one). The single-season Nationwide record is 13 wins by the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in 2010.
Keselowski wrecked at Kansas the last time he drove the Nationwide car.
“I had to redeem myself,” he said. “When you win, it’s almost more of a relief that you didn’t screw it up. It’s obviously a lot of fun.”
Last season, Keselowski gave Penske his first Sprint Cup title. Penske still hasn’t won a Nationwide championship.
Kyle Busch, driving the No. 54 Toyota for Gibbs, crashed hard into the wall in Turn 4 and then took a wild ride through the grass just past the halfway point of the race. His crew made some repairs to get him back in the race, but he finished in 26th place and four laps off the pace.
Hornish and Dillon each led only two laps on the high-banked 1½-mile track, with Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth finishing third between them.
Keselowski, who started second like he will Sunday in the Sprint Cup race, led six times. Hamlin had five leads for a total of 45 laps while Kenseth led twice for 42 laps.
The race’s first caution didn’t come until a yellow flag came out on the 71st lap because of debris, wiping out Keselowski’s 4.8-second lead over Busch, who was then running second.
On the first series of green-flag stops, Dillon stayed out the longest to get a bonus point for leading a lap.
When Dillon finally made his first stop after 54 laps, Hornish was following him down pit road. Hornish was serving a pass-through penalty for hitting the commitment cone entering the pits for his stop a few laps earlier. That dropped Hornish to 17th, a lap off the lead.
Hornish was back on the lead lap by time Busch went sliding through the front-stretch grass.
“It is a real good run to come back from being a lap down,” Hornish said. “It was a good strategy call to get us the wave around and we had to start at the back and then when we came down pit road the yellow came out and we had to go to the back of the lead lap cars. ... I tried to stay calm and work my way back up there.”