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Keselowski Avoids Fireworks, Gets Win At Daytona

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 3 2016
Brad Keselowski found the one safe place to be at Daytona on Saturday night – alone. The Team Penske driver led the most laps, avoided trouble and got the win. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Brad Keselowski found the one safe place to be at Daytona on Saturday night – alone. The Team Penske driver led the most laps, avoided trouble and got the win. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

A couple of days ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that the only time that drivers enjoy racing at restrictor plate tracks is when they run up front. Brad Keselowski emerged as Mr. Happy late Saturday night.

sprint-logo-08Keselowski stayed ahead of the massive wrecks which garaged many of the biggest stars in the Sprint Cup Series and went on to win Saturday night’s 400-miler at Daytona International Speedway – in overtime, of course.

He led 115 of 161 laps in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. The victory was the third of the season for the former Cup champion but his first at Daytona – a track at which, Keselowski said, he has run like “dog crap” last February.

“This is the 250th start, year 50 for Team Penske,” he said, “100th Cup win for Team Penske, my 20th win, and we finished first.  I like that number the best.  But really happy and proud for our team to be in victory lane tonight.  It was a good effort for us for sure. The wins are never easy to come by, and I think this one means a lot to me for sure because looking at our past here, it hasn’t been all that rosy.”

In the end, the victory came with a push from teammate Joey Logano on the OT restart. That allowed him to clear Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, block all moves to get past him and sprint home the winner.

“Yeah, restarts are so critical, and I got a great push from my teammate Joey Logano that helped put me in position to kind of establish the lead and be able to make the moves you need to make to hold off the lanes,” Keselowski said. “Busch had a couple really good runs.  I thought he might

One of the big ones at Daytona on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

One of the big ones at Daytona on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

have had me one time, and I was able to get up in front of him at the last second. Daytona, Talladega, plate racing at its finest right there.  Interesting how it all played out, and of course we feel glad to be able to get where we’re at.”

Keselowski called his car the fastest he’s ever had at Daytona. He didn’t have to tell Busch that.

“Just there at the end of the race the 2 (Keselowski) car was really, really fast,” runner-up Busch said. “Really, really strong. It’s really hard to get by him. I tried just about everything. The only thing I didn’t quite have was a big enough push one time to just try to make a move. He was really good at making that thing pretty wide.”

Trevor Bayne, a former winner of the Daytona 500, finished third to cap off what had to feel like a pretty good weekend for Roush Fenway Racing. His teammate, Greg Biffle, had won the RFR’s first pole in three years on Friday.

“I am really proud of this Roush Fenway team,” Bayne said. “We had a pole this weekend, three cars in the top-10, two in the top-five. That last run, starting 12th and being on the top and getting a run in that lane and having a lot of help from the No. 3 we were able to work the top and get a P3.”

Busch had ended his post-race interview by saying he was looking forward to next week. That had to be the dominant assessment among his peers as well.

Saturday night’s race was ran fairly cleanly for the first 89 laps.

It was just after that a huge wreck involving 22 cars dirtied things up big time.

Jamie McMurray’s Chevrolet got loose, made side-to-side contact with Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson, got out of shape and veered sharply into the outside wall after contact from Jimmie Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

McMurray, Johnson, Paul Menard and series leader Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick were among those whose cars were heavily damaged.

“You really think it’s going to happen from Lap 1,” said Harvick, who now leads the Cup series by 14 points over Keselowski. “It’s hard to make ground, so you have to be pretty aggressive when you start making ground.

“Just kind of riding there, just maintaining until that next pit stop so we could get my car off the ground and then really start being aggressive. I really couldn’t be aggressive, and unfortunately, I was in the back of that front pack and ended up getting in the wreck.”

Kenseth said, “The cars were a little bit unstable tonight, which typically makes for a little bit better plate racing. There were times when it looked like it was getting pretty hairy up there and we would back up a little bit, but it was actually starting to look like it was going to stable out. It was mainly two-wide and some three-wide, but you can’t predict when they’re going to happen.”

Just that they are going to happen.

“We were right smack in the middle of this unnecessary accident and took big-time hits from all different directions,”  Truex said. “Someone just made a questionable move out there and a lot of other people paid the price. We happened to be one of those teams. We did the best we could to fix the car, but it took a severe beating. Hats off to our guys for getting our car back on track.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Saturday, July 02, 2016

  1. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 161.
  2. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 161.
  3. (13) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 161.
  4. (11) Joey Logano, Ford, 161.
  5. (4) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 161.
  6. (17) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 161.
  7. (6) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 161.
  8. (1) Greg Biffle, Ford, 161.
  9. (31) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 161.
  10. (37) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 161.
  11. (35) * Cole Whitt, Toyota, 161.
  12. (20) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 161.
  13. (26) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 161.
  14. (12) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 161.
  15. (14) Aric Almirola, Ford, 161.
  16. (38) David Ragan, Toyota, 161.
  17. (9) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 161.
  18. (23) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 161.
  19. (28) * David Gilliland, Ford, 161.
  20. (33) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 161.
  21. (16) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 161.
  22. (39) * Reed Sorenson, Toyota, 161.
  23. (10) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 161.
  24. (32) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 160.
  25. (2) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Accident, 155.
  26. (19) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Accident, 148.
  27. (22) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 130.
  28. (7) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 127.
  29. (15) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 127.
  30. (18) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 122.
  31. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 119.
  32. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 113.
  33. (36) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 108.
  34. (29) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 91.
  35. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
  36. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
  37. (30) Brian Scott #, Ford, Accident, 89.
  38. (40) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
  39. (21) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Accident, 89.
  40. (25) Chris Buescher #, Ford, Accident, 89.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  150.342 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 40 Mins, 38 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.159 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes:  26 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   G. Biffle 0; C. Edwards 1-8; B. Keselowski 9-21; D. Ragan 22; R. Smith 23; B. Keselowski 24-28; G. Biffle 29; B. Keselowski 30-51; M. Truex Jr. 52; B. Keselowski 53-64; D. Hamlin 65; C. Mears 66-67; K. Harvick 68; C. Bowyer 69; Kyle Busch 70-71; B. Keselowski 72; Kyle Busch 73-75; J. Logano 76; D. Hamlin 77-82; B. Keselowski 83-98; T. Stewart 99; J. Logano 100-104; B. Keselowski 105-131; Kyle Busch 132-138; B. Keselowski 139-140; Kyle Busch 141-144; B. Keselowski 145-161.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Keselowski 9 times for 115 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 16 laps; C. Edwards 1 time for 8 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 7 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 6 laps; C. Mears 1 time for 2 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 1 lap; C. Bowyer 1 time for 1 lap; G. Biffle 1 time for 1 lap; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap; K. Harvick 1 time for 1 lap; R. Smith 1 time for 1 lap; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 565; B. Keselowski – 551; Kurt Busch – 545; J. Logano – 531; C. Edwards – 527; Kyle Busch – 492; M. Truex Jr. – 482; C. Elliott # – 482; J. Johnson – 475; D. Hamlin – 446; M. Kenseth – 443; A. Dillon – 434; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 433; R. Newman – 425; *. Blaney # – 409; J. McMurray – 405.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 3 2016
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