Brad Keselowski will be taking a trophy with him back to Pocono Raceway. The reigning Sprint Cup champion overcame an early outside tire violation on pit road and overheating issues to win tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Keselowski was seventh on a restart at Lap 206, but quickly moved toward the front and then took the lead at Lap 215.
A spin from Richard Harriman brought out another yellow at Lap 223, but on the subsequent restart, he held off a brief challenge from Brian Vickers and went on to win by half a second over Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish Jr.
With the first part of a busy weekend complete, Keselowski will look for a critical victory on the Cup side in tomorrow’s GoBowling.com 400 at the “Tricky Triangle.” But while his Iowa celebration will be short, he was still happy to put the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford in Victory Lane.
“I knew it was going to be about that last restart being really aggressive,” he told ESPN in Victory Lane. “And it was! But that’s what it’s gonna take to win these races, when you have to overcome adversity.
“This Ford Mustang was fast. We just needed to get up to the front, and when we were able to do that, it was ours to win.”
Vickers fell back to third at the finish, followed by Austin Dillon in fourth, and Kyle Larson in fifth.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.