Brad Keselowski led a race-high 106 laps in the 200-lap O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday en route to his sixth series win of the season and his No. 22 Penske Racing team’s reclaim of the Nationwide Series owners’ points lead. Kyle Busch’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team held the lead heading into Texas, but Busch suffered a tire problem that sent him into the wall and through the infield grass to bring out the second of four cautions on lap 110.
“I thought the 54 was the car to beat most of the weekend,” Keselowski said. “Like I said, (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and the team worked on it and got it right at the end.”
Denny Hamlin finished second and Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr. finished third to cut, ever so slightly, into Austin Dillon’s lead atop the series drivers’ points standings. Dillon finished fifth. Matt Kenseth was fourth.
Hornish had trouble on pit road in the first half of the race that resulted in him falling off the lead lap. He took a wave-around during the first caution of the race to get back on the lead lap and a well-timed caution when he planned to pit on lap 110 kept him on the lead lap and put him back on the same cycle as the front runners.
“Pit road comes up pretty quick, and I got a little locked up as soon as I got on the brakes and did everything I could do to try to get it whoaed up and had a choice of hitting the cone or the back of the 54 car. I figured the cone would hurt the front of my car a lot less. It was a great recovery by everyone that works on the Wurth Ford Mustang, and we did what we needed to do today. We got ourselves back up there in position to run for the win and over-tightened the car by the time we got to that point.”
After taking the lead on lap six, Keselowski dominated the first third of the race. He led the way until a call to take fuel only on a pit stop during the first caution of the race on lap 70 resulted in him falling back to eighth after the restart, losing spots to drivers with fresher tires.
Hamlin and Kenseth then took over the top two spots in the running order, with both leading laps before Keselowski moved his way toward the front after the lap 110 caution. On the similar tires as everyone else, Keselowski took second from Hamlin on lap 148 and then took the lead from Kenseth eight laps later.
Hamlin got back up front when both Keselowski and Kenseth had problematic pit stops during a green-flag cycle just past lap 170. Only one driver was able to get by Hamlin the rest of the way, as Keselowski passed him to retake the lead for good with 15 laps to go.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott, Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR