CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski passed Penske Racing teammate Ryan Blaney with 14 laps to go and sailed on to victory in Friday night’s Drive for the Cure 300 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Overcoming tire issues, Keselowski earned his fourth win in the NNS this season, his 31st career NNS win and also his third NNS win in his career at CMS.
What’s more, Keselowski has now made nine starts in the NNS this season and has a finishing average of 1.9. His lowest finish in that nine-race stretch has been fourth.
“That was looking to be a long night, but we got it tuned in there,” Keselowski told ESPN in a post-race interview.
Later in the CMS media center, Keselowski added, “It was a night of adversity. We all got really nervous, then we lost a tire and I thought this was going to be a downward spiral, but my hat’s off to Jeremy (crew chief Jeremy Bullins) and the crew because they got us back in it.”
Fellow Sprint Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth finished second and third, respectively.
“Our competition was just better than us and beat us,” Busch said of Keselowski.
Added Kenseth, “It was okay, probably the most competitive we’ve been this year with me driving the No. 20. I wanted to win the race, but I was close.”
Blaney hung on to finish fourth, followed by Cup rookie Kyle Larson.
Sixth through 10th were Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, NNS points leader Chase Elliott, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott.
“I’m disappointed with it, I really don’t like where we finished,” Elliott said. “We still have some work to do and hopefully we can find it by Texas.”
Regan Smith overcame early rear suspension problems to finish 11th.
“We’re not happy with 11th, but I think we can take a lot from it,” Smith said. “We had a race car that at times was capable of being up front. We lost some track position and earned some back.”
Alex Bowman was 12th, followed by Ryan Sieg, Dylan Kwasniewski, Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan, Landon Cassill, Mike Bliss, Dakoda Armstrong and David Starr.
Ross Chastain was 21st, followed by Jeremy Clements, Kevin Swindell, Corey LaJoie, Derrike Cope, Joey Gase, Jamie Dick, Chad Boat, Carlos Contreras and Ty Dillon.
Wrapping up the 40-driver field were James Buescher in 31st, followed by Eric McClure, Cale Conley, Timmy Hill, Jeff Green, Matt Dibenedetto, Tanner Berryhill, Will Kimmel III, JJ Yeley and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
The 200-lap race around the 1.5-mile fast track was marred by two big wrecks.
The first occurred on the opening lap, right after the green flag fell to start the race, and involved 12 cars.
MORE: No sooner does green flag fall, NNS race has 12-car wreck
The second big wreck was a six-car affair 75 laps into the race. It was an especially costly mishap for Ty Dillon, who came into the race ranked third in the NNS standings.
MORE: Another big wreck in NNS race; Ty Dillon to likely take big hit in points
Dillon finished 30th in the race and dropped to fifth in the overall season standings, now 64 points behind Dillon.
As for the rest of the NNS standings, Elliott retains his stranglehold on the top spot, and also opened a more significant lead, posting a 42-point edge over second-ranked Regan Smith.
Brian Scott moved up one spot in the rankings to third, 61 points back, while Elliott Sadler also moved up one position to fourth, 63 points behind Elliott.
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