Three drivers/teams had reason to celebrate following the Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Brad Keselowski won the race in a No. 48 Penske entry, while Austin Dillon celebrated winning the 2013 Nationwide Series title after a 12th-place race finish. Penske’s No. 22 team, with Joey Logano as its driver at Homestead, won the series owner’s championship, while Ford claimed the manufacturer’s title.
“Maybe it’s the number,” Keselowski joked, as he was driving a No. 48, the same as five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup Series.
It was Keselowski’s seventh win of the season.
“Most wins I’ve had in a season,” he said.
Kyle Larson, who led a race-high 54 laps, finished second, and Kyle Busch was third. Busch’s No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing entry was the No. 22′s primary competition for the owner’s title. Matt Kenseth finished fourth, and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five. Sam Hornish Jr., who headed into the race with an eight-point deficit to Dillon in the battle for the driver’s championship finished ahead of Dillon in eighth, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the margin with which Dillon entered the race.
Hornish started on the pole and led the way until Larson got by him for the top spot on lap 44. Through much of the first half of the race, the three Penske drivers, Hornish, Keselowski and Logano, along with Busch and Larson dominated the top-five positions in the running order. Meanwhile, Dillon struggled, for the most part, outside the top-20.
“We didn’t have the car to run all night up there (up front),” Dillon said. “Probably the worst car we’ve had all year.”
The two championship contenders found each other on the race track when they came off pit road close together during a lap 122 caution to restart ninth and 10th. Hornish was able to quickly get back toward the front, but Dillon was not.
The two found themselves in close quarters again, when pit strategy sent several drivers occupying positions between them down pit road during a caution with 17 laps remaining. Hornish restarted the race in the third position with Dillon in fifth.
“We missed it having that late-race caution,” Hornish said.
Prior to Larson taking the lead on a restart in the final 50 laps to lead additional laps, Hornish was tied with Logano for most laps led to, potentially, give Hornish a bonus point. Larson, though, surpassed them both for most laps led. With Dillon not far behind, Hornish’s only hope for the championship was a race win, but he lost that to teammate, Keselowski.
“I was glad to see the 12′s back bumper,” Dillon said.
Logano finished sixth, Parker Kligerman was seventh. Cole Whitt and Nelson Piquet Jr. finished just behind Hornish in ninth and 10th.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR