Brad Keselowski does a burnout after winning Saturday's Nationwide Series race in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)
LAS VEGAS — Brad Keselowski overcame electrical trouble and held off Kyle Busch on Saturday to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first time.
In his eighth start in Vegas, Keselowski earned his 28th career Nationwide win on his 20th track. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion did it despite a remarkable series of setbacks and challenges that left him more relieved than excited.
“We found every way we could to make it hard,” Keselowski said. “This Ford was flying today. These races aren’t getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could, every lap.”
Busch came up from a 37th-place start to finish second on his hometown track, but couldn’t catch Keselowski’s Penske Ford. Busch, who got sent to the back for making adjustments after qualifying, was decidedly unimpressed with his car’s engine, which is from Joe Gibbs Racing, not Toyota.
“Our car was super-fast on the long run,” Busch said. “Best motor won today, that’s for sure. Probably the best car. He was really good. That’s all we had.”
Kyle Larson was third despite early damage to his car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth in front of 18-year-old rookie Chase Elliott, who posted his first top-five finish.
Keselowski has been in contention in the Nationwide race in Las Vegas several times over his previous seven starts, but managed just two top-10 finishes after repeated trouble. He found enormous trouble in this one, but still led 144 of the 200 laps.
He had led 106 of the first 139 laps before a sluggish green-flag pit stop allowed Busch to move in front. Keselowski also lost three spots early after sliding through his pit box, and he later lost power because of a faulty alternator, forcing him to turn off equipment.
He still navigated through a thicket of traffic on the final laps in an exciting finish.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before (Busch) caught me,” Keselowski said. “I was just trying to get through as much traffic as possible.”
Larson managed a standout finish despite hitting the wall early in the race, while Elliott also gave an impressive performance.
“It gives us a mind-set that we can run up front,” Elliott said. “I knew these cars were capable of doing it. I knew it was just a matter of me getting it done for these guys.”
The race’s most eye-catching move likely was made by Matt Kenseth, who drove the Nationwide race in Vegas for the first time since 2007.
Kenseth was racing three-wide with Busch and Keselowski when he spun on the final turn on the 159th lap, turning sideways into the straightaway. Kenseth incredibly managed to save it without crashing, while Elliott also narrowly avoided running straight into Kenseth’s perpendicular car.comments powered by Disqus