Keselowski claims Nationwide win

CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, leading the final 67 laps to give Penske Racing a winning start on auto racing's biggest weekend.

Keselowski raced to his first Nationwide victory of the year. He'll try to double up in Sprint Cup's longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600 tonight. In between comes the Indy 500, a race that owner Roger Penske's cars have won 15 times. Penske driver Ryan Briscoe will start from the pole there today.

Penske Racing has "three shots at winning races this weekend," Keselowski said. "We're one for one."

Keselowski led the way as Sprint Cup drivers took the top four spots. Denny Hamlin was second, followed by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, last year's Coca-Cola 600 champion.

Nationwide points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had driveshaft problems and finished 26th.

Danica Patrick started the race in third, yet slid to 13th. She'll also race Sunday night after spending her past seven Memorial Day weekends driving in Indianapolis.

For a while, it looked as if Keselowski might relive the last-lap, out-of-gas experience that cost Dale Earnhardt Jr. a Coca-Cola 600 victory a year ago.

Keselowski gassed up with 73 laps left, then chose to stay out during a caution period a few laps later instead of pitting like most of the field. That began a fuel mileage countdown that had Keselowski and his team guessing if they had enough to make it to the end, unlike Earnhardt, who went dry entering the final turn and was passed for the victory.

"It's going to be either really good or really bad," Keselowski said on his radio down the stretch.

Turns out, it was perfect as Keselowski picked up his first Nationwide Series race of the year. It was Keselowski's 18th win in the series and his second at Charlotte.

Was Keselowski worried those final laps? No, he said, because he was confident in the call made by crew chief Jeremy Bullins. "If Jeremy says we're going to make, then I believe it," the driver said, smiling.

Keselowski broke free on the last restart 46 laps from the end. He was able to save so much fuel after building a large lead, Keselowski did a flashy victory burnout to celebrate.

Busch was asked if he could've lasted so long on a tank of gas. "No, there's no way our stuff would've done that," he said.

Elliott Sadler, second in points, finished fifth and moved 13 points behind Stenhouse in the standings.

Patrick took third in morning qualifying and thought she was in good position for a strong finish. But she quickly fell backward on the hot, slippery track. Still, Patrick was running at the end and posted her third top 15-finish in her past four Nationwide events.

Share This Story