Behind the wheel of a red colored Penske Racing Ford, Brad Keselowski scored his second NASCAR win in two days as he staged a dominating performance leading 138 of 301 laps and winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 Sunday. Keselowski survived a green white checkered flag finish to score his first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Keselowski spent little time outside the top spot all afternoon and was able to score his third win of the season and his second in the last three races. The victory also came a day after he won Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire marking the first time a driver swept both races at the Loudon New Hampshire track.
“This was a hard fought battle passing cars and trying to stay up front all day,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “We had a couple bullets to dodge and I am not thinking of anything else right now than how thankful I am to have a team and car that is clicking this well. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Kyle Busch was second, Kyle Larson was third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Ryan Newman fifth.
Pole sitter Kyle Busch led to the green and jumped out to an early lead as Jimmie Johnson fell in behind; Tony Stewart followed in third.
On lap 7, Johnson was forced to pit when he lost a left rear tire. He lost a lap and rejoined the field 42nd. Denny Hamlin took over second as Stewart remained in third. Seven laps later Johnson’s bad day got worse when he lost another left rear tire and crashed into the turn 1 wall hard bringing out the first caution. He was able to climb uninjured from his car, but his day was done and he was scored 42nd.
Everyone stayed out and the field took the green on lap 21; Busch jumped back out to the lead as Joey Logano in a back-up car slid into second. Hamlin retook second on lap 27 as Logano fell back to third. By lap 45, Busch’s lead was just over second. Ten laps later though Hamlin had cut the lead to a half a second. Hamlin caught Busch and made a pass for the lead on lap 63. Keselowski was close behind and took over second.
Green flag pit stops started on lap 75; after the cycle ended on lap 82 Hamlin was again in the lead. Busch was second, Keselowski third, Matt Kenseth fourth, Logano fifth. On lap 86, Keselowski moved past Busch for second. Four laps later Keselowski powered by Hamlin for the lead for the first time.
The second caution came out on lap 113 for debris. The leaders came in for stops. Kyle Busch led the race off pit road after taking only two tires; Kurt Busch was second but had missed his pit stall and was forced to return. Hamlin fell into second, Kenseth third, Logano fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth. Kyle Larson stayed out and took over the lead. All the leaders had taken two tires, Keselowski took four and restarted 10th.
The restart came on lap 188 with Larson and Busch racing side by side to the lead. Larson was able to get sole possession of first place on lap 120; Keselowski was up to fifth. On lap 122 Kenseth got by Busch for second.
By lap 127 Kenseth got by Larson followed soon by Keselowski who took over second and was quickly catching up to Kenseth. Keselowski was able to get by for the lead on lap 139. The third caution came out on lap 153 for debris. The leaders all came in for stops. The top eight took only two tires; Logano led off pit road, Jamie McMurray was second, Clint Bowyer third, Brian Vickers fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fifth. Keselowski who led at the caution, took four tires and restarted 11th.
The green flag came out on lap 158. The lead group was bunched up on the restart and it took a lap to sort it out; Bowyer came out with the lead, Logano was second. Ten laps later though, Keselowski with his four fresh tires, swept by Logano and was looking for the lead.
The fourth caution came out on lap 177 for more debris just after Bowyer gave up the lead to Keselowski. The green came out on lap 182 with Keselowski rocketed to the lead, Kenseth took over second, Bowyer was third.
Caution five came out on lap 211 when Joey Logano spun into the wall just after he making contact with Morgan Shepherd. The leaders all came in for stops. The top six took only two tires with Bowyer leading off pit road. McMurray was second, Jeff Gordon third, Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Kasey Kahne fifth; Keselowski restarted in seventh behind Kyle Larson.
The green came out on lap 219. By lap 222 Keselowski was second and by lap 231 he was back in the lead. The sixth caution came out for debris on lap 248. The leaders all came in for stops. Jeff Gordon however led a group that stayed on track. The top five that did come in all took only two tires. Kenseth led off pit road, Bowyer was second, Keselowski third, Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Larson fifth.
Gordon stayed out to lead, Hamlin was second, Kevin Harvick third, Kyle Busch fourth, Paul Menard fifth and Greg Biffle sixth. Gordon led at the green on lap 254, Busch took over second, Hamlin third and by lap 256 Keselowski was fourth and charging forward; he was third by lap 260, lap 264 he was second, five laps later he was beside Gordon and a lap later was back in the lead. From there Keselowski built a lead of just over a second as Hamlin got by Gordon for second.
With four laps to go, the seventh caution came out when Justin Allgaier spun and hit the wall entering turn 4. The caution erased a nearly two second lead for Keselowski and set up a green white checkered flag finish . It also gave those who had stayed out during the sixth caution worries about fuel mileage. Hamlin was the only driver among the top runners to pit. Under caution, Gordon was the first to run out of fuel. He had to be pushed back to the pits.
When the green came out, Harvick dropped to the inside out of fuel as Keselowski shot to the front, followed closely by Kyle Busch. He was no match for Keselowski though as the dominate car of the afternoon went onto victory.
“It is every drivers dream,” Keselowski said. “Every once in awhile you get these cars and you are thankful and try like hell to not screw them up.”
Bowyer held on for sixth, Stewart was seventh, Hamlin eighth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top ten.
Gordon leads the standings, Earnhardt Jr. is second, Keselowski third, followed by Kenseth, Johnson, Edwards, Newman, Kyle Busch, Logano and Bowyer.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series takes is final weekend off of the season before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27.