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Keselowski Gets First NNS Victory Of Season

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, July 8 2011

Brad Keselowski won at Kentucky Friday night. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Brad Keselowski won the Feed the Children 300 Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.

He led 132 laps of the 200-lap race to get his first victory of the season.

“This is a new car,” Keselowski said. “And it hauls ass.”

Kevin Harvick finished second and Kyle Busch, who crashed in qualifying and had to start from the back of the field, was third.

Kasey Kahne was fourth.

Elliott Sadler started from the pole but was overtaken by teammate/boss Harvick about nine laps into the race.

“It was a complete package tonight,” Keselowski said. “A great Discount Tire Dodge Challenger with great fuel mileage.  Great pit stops.  Just a complete package.  That’s what it takes to win.  These guys are good.  Carl (Edwards) and his team have been really fast all year.  Kevin was no exception and Kyle.  It feels good to win here in Kentucky.”

Harvick dominated for about the next 56 laps. But then, it became Keselowski’s race . He took the lead on a yellow flag pit stop and  led  virtually the rest of the way.

Once again, top drivers battled fuel concerns late in the race.

Harvick appeared to be the only driver with a shot at catching Keselowski as he had gotten close late in the race, but with five laps to go, Harvick fell way back after aborting a pit stop at the last minute.

“Did he do that on purpose?  That was my thought,” Keselowski said of the move. “I wasn’t sure if he was playing games and if he was, I wasn’t sure what that game was.  Essentially, it opened the box up for me to be more aggressive saving fuel. I don’t know if we would have run out or not.  It’s hard to tell.  That opened up the box for us and kind of guaranteed us that we’d be OK.”

Indecision from the pit box, Harvick said.

“I knew I had a good lap to two laps that I had saved under caution because I came right out of the pits (on lap 138) and started saving gas,” Harvick said. “They never told me on the radio that I needed to do anything until eight or nine laps to go. We just have to learn to race better.”

Still, he said, it would have been tough to catch Keselowski.

“We had a fast car all night,” Harvick said. “Brad was a little better. I was not happy with how the race was managed tonight.”

Sadler finished fifth to overtake Reed Sorenson for the points lead. Sorenson finished 17th.

Sadler picked up his ninth top-five and 13th top-10 finish of the season and now will hold a four-point advantage over Sorenson when teams arrive at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a July 16 race.

“That’s what great teams do—what championship caliber race teams do,” Sadler said. “We had a track bar mount issue that was rubbing the inside of the right rear tire.  We came in, took the time to fix it, and a great call by (Crew Chief) Ernie (Cope) and the guys to stay out for pit strategy at the end.

“Great run for our OneMain Financial Chevrolet.  Great first time at Kentucky.  It’s not the win that we wanted, but it was a great Top 5 finish and far as the big picture is concerned, great for us,” Sadler said.

Rounding out the top 10 were Kenny Wallace, Michael Annett, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano.

“That was a tough night,” Stenhouse said. “Our Blanwell Angus Beef Mustang was fast. We had a car to win, we just are getting beat on this fuel mileage stuff every week. We are just going to have to go to the shop and figure it out. They are just killing us on those and have the car to win, we just can’t do it without the fuel mileage.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Friday, July 8 2011
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