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.”

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.