While race dominator Brad Keselowski was making his way back toward the front after a late-race pit road speeding penalty in the John R. Elliott Hero Campaign 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Friday night, Kevin Harvick was battling Kyle Busch for the lead. Harvick was able to get by Busch on the final restart with five laps remaining to claim his second win of the season and the second Nationwide win of his career at Kentucky.
“Once we got up front, it really took off,” Harvick said. “His (Busch’s) car must’ve gotten tigther.”
Keselowski also got by Busch in the closing laps to finish second, relegating Bushc to third.
Keselowski dominated the race, leading 138 laps of the 200 that made up the race. Prior to a green-flag pit stop with 52 to go, he had led all but 10 laps. That all changed with a pit road speeding penalty served with about a quarter of the race to go.
“I definitely put us behind with that,” Keselowski said. “We had a great Discount Tires Ford. I just put us behind with that speeding penalty.”
After a caution for debris on lap 157, Busch restarted with the lead, while Harvick restarted fourth and Keselowski 17th. Harvick made his way up to second as soon as the race returned to green, and Keselowski quickly returned to the top-10.
Busch and Harvick ran first and second through three additonal restarts, including one following a caution on lap 169 for a wreck involving Regan Smith, the championship points leader heading into the race. As a result, Smith wound up 28th.
Elliott Sadler took advantage of the situation by taking the points lead from Smith by finishing 10th. Chase Elliott also moved past Smith to second in the standings after finishing the race in the 12th spot.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Sadler said. “We’re only halfway there.”
Paul Menard was fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five. Richard Childress Racing Brendan Gaughan, Ty Dillon and Brian Scott finished six through eighth and joined Menard in giving RCR finishes inside the top-10. Kyle Larson was ninth.