Brad Keselowski secured his sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season, leading 105 of 200 laps to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway after a late-race battle with Denny Hamlin.
The win also enabled the No. 22 Penske Racing team to gain the lead in the NNS owner’s championship over the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Kyle Busch, driving the No. 54 today, finished four laps down in 26th place after crashing in Turn 4 during the middle stages of the race.
Put the two results together and the No. 22, which has won 12 times in the NNS this year with four different drivers (Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney), is now ahead of the No. 54 by a margin of 26 points in the owner’s race.
“It is good,” Keselowski said of the situation in the owner’s championship. “We have two races left but it isn’t over.”
Sam Hornish Jr. was able to slightly trim his deficit to Austin Dillon in the NNS driver’s championship. Hornish was penalized early on for a pit road commitment violation when he hit a cone, and subsequently lost a lap.
But he was able to get back on pace with the leaders and climbed into the Top 10 at halfway before winding up with a third-place result – two spots ahead of Dillon in fifth. With two races remaining in the season, Dillon now holds a six-point advantage over Hornish for the driver’s title going into Phoenix next weekend.
Matt Kenseth, who will look to take control of the Sprint Cup championship lead tomorrow in the AAA Texas 500, finished fourth.
Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.
Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.
However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.
Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.
The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.
Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.
A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.