Another runner-up at Watkins Glen for Keselowski

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With no wins so far this season, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski could have gotten himself one if he had wrecked Kyle Busch in their last-lap battle today at Watkins Glen International.

But while wins are certainly the top priority for Keselowski – one of several trying to break into this year’s Chase – he wasn’t going to take Busch out.

“Even if you don’t end up in the Top 20 [in the championship], I’d rather be a wild card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins,” he said after finishing second in the Cheez-It 355.

“I guess I don’t look at it that way, but I could have definitely dumped Kyle and won the race. That stuff goes back and forth. I’m sure someone in the tabloid side of the media will make a big deal about that, but it won’t be me because I know I did the right thing.”

Keselowski admitted that the temptation was there to take out Busch in the final corners, but “there’s a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man.”

He also referred to their last-lap incident last year at the Glen, when both drivers ran across some oil on the track and Keselowski wound up punting Busch to take the lead. Marcos Ambrose would then hunt down and pass Keselowski for the win in a dramatic finish.

“I felt like last year was a racing deal – [Busch] went off the track, I filled the hole and he came down,” explained Keselowski on Sunday. “If I would have wrecked him today, in my mind, it wouldn’t have been a racing deal. It would have been just wrecking and there’s a huge difference.

“When somebody blocks you, that’s different. When somebody runs off the track and pulls down in front of you, that’s a racing deal. Those are all just racing deals. When you just run in the back of someone and drive them head first into the wall, that’s BS racing and I just don’t like it.”

Keselowski was in position to race for the win despite an early spin while trying to battle with Jamie McMurray for a spot on the track. He gave credit to crew chief Paul Wolfe for the strategy that got him back up front.

“Paul just saved my butt after I tried to screw up the day,” he said. “We’ve had some races where strategy has bit us in the butt royally and today was one of those days where we caught a good break. That’s just being quite frank about it.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize on it, which is disappointing – capitalizing on it in the sense of a win – but this is the first race in a long time where I can say we caught a break.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.