Keselowski outruns Hamlin for Texas Nationwide win
Fort Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Brad Keselowski won a Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time after passing Denny Hamlin for the lead in the closing stages of Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
Keselowski and Hamlin exchanged the lead several times following two late-race restarts before Keselowski pulled ahead of him for good with 15 laps to go. He beat Hamlin to the finish line by one second for his sixth win in his last eight Nationwide starts.
In his previous Nationwide race four weeks ago at Kansas, Keselowski crashed into the wall when Kyle Busch bumped him from behind and spun him around coming out of the final turn with 12 laps to go. Busch finished fourth, while Keselowski ended up in 28th.
At Texas, Busch blew his right-rear tire and made contact with the wall just past the halfway point. He did not make a tire change during the round of pit stops prior to his incident. Busch finished 26th.
"The last time I drove the (No. 22 Penske Racing) Ford Mustang, I wrecked it at Kansas, so I had to redeem myself today," said Keselowski, who led a race- high 106 laps en route to his 26th career Nationwide win. "I've never won at Texas. I also had to redeem myself from (Friday night) when I spun out on my own during the truck race, which cost my team a shot. It feels good to get it done today."
Keselowski gave Penske's No. 22 team its 12th win in Nationwide this year. A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano have also driven that car to victory lane during the season. The series record is 13 wins by the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team in 2010.
"Jeremy Bullins, crew chief, is on it right now. He's really on fire," Keselowski said. "He made great adjustments to the car, and the team did an awesome job."
Hamlin substituted for Brian Vickers in Gibbs' No. 20 car in this race. Vickers is out for the remainder of the season while taking blood-thinning medication for a blood clot recently discovered in his right calf.
"Once we got clear there with 15 (laps) to go, I thought it was ours, but our car just didn't have a whole lot of front-line speed in it," Hamlin said. "The 22 (Keselowski) got a good run on me and kind of packed on me there into turn 1 and got me loose. I tried to make another run at him but just came up a little short."
Sam Hornish Jr.'s third-place finish coupled with a fifth-place run for Austin Dillon allowed Hornish to trim Dillon's lead from eight points to six with just two races to go -- Phoenix and Homestead.
Hornish fell one lap behind in the early going when he hit the commitment cone while entering pit road and therefore received a pass-thru penalty. Pit strategy during the mid-stages of the race helped him get back into contention.
"It was a really good run to be able to come back from being a lap down," said Hornish, who finished in the top-five at Texas for the first time. "The guys did a strategy call to be able to get me the wave around. I had to start from the back. Then even when we came down pit road the yellow came out, so we had to go to the back of lead lap cars. We just stayed calm and worked our way back up there."
Matt Kenseth, who is the current points leader in the Sprint Cup Series, finished fourth.
Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott, Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet completed the top-10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who made his first Nationwide start since winning his second consecutive championship in 2012, finished 17th.
11/02 20:07:09 ET