Brad Keselowski “best of the rest” after finishing third at Homestead

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Brad Keselowski couldn’t quite pull out a victory to close his 2014 Sprint Cup season, but the Team Penske pilot’s third-place finish in tonight’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway allowed him to finish fifth in the championship standings – and tops among drivers not among the Championship 4.

Keselowski was in contention for the race win, running third at a restart with nine laps left in the Ford Ecoboost 400. But he was one of several drivers who were swallowed up after the green flag by a charging Kevin Harvick, who went on to win the race and his first Cup title.

“It was a good night,” said Keselowski. “To have another sound finish and bring home the white deuce with a third is not bad. We certainly wanted to be able to win and Kevin made a great move on that next-to-last restart and got through traffic and by us for the lead. That was pretty cool to see actually.

“It was a solid season for everyone here at Team Penske. We had six wins and I think 17 top-fives, the most top fives and wins in the series and that is a lot to be proud of. It was a decent night. Not exceptional but a pretty good night.

“We end up third with some ups and downs and got caught on pit road under a yellow. The team did a great job recovering from that. It was a solid to finish to what has been a great year for us.”

Keselowski was running in the Top 10 when he pitted under green at Lap 57 -only to have the caution come out one lap later. That put him a lap down, but after taking the wave-around to return to the lead lap, he re-emerged in the Top 10 by Lap 100.

Keselowski would then rise as high as second in the latter stages of the race before settling for the third-place spot behind Harvick and Ryan Newman.

His six victories were not enough to ensure him a spot in the Championship 4, but Keselowski was at ease about who ultimately took the crown.

“The fastest car all season won the championship,” he mused. “I think that is right. The most consistent car was probably Jeff [Gordon]. He finished sixth in points. We had the most wins and we finished [fifth].

“You can argue every case for a championship scenario but the reality is that we all knew what it took to win going in, and Kevin and his team did it.”

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.