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Brad Keselowski Wins Charlotte Xfinity Series Race

by Pete McCole
Saturday, May 26, 2018

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Brad Keselowski wins at Charlotte
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Neither rain, nor Kyle Busch, nor NASCAR overtime could keep Brad Keselowski from Victory Lane in Saturday’s Alsco 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Keselowski started on the pole and led 77 of the 204 laps including the final 44, surviving a one hour red flag, three late-race restarts and a green-white-checkered mad dash to the finish, beating out Cole Custer and score his second Xfinity victory of the season.

Christopher Bell was third, followed by Ty Dillon and series points leader Elliott Sadler.

The win was the 38th-career Xfinity Series victory for Keselowski, tying Carl Edwards for fourth all-time on the Xfinity wins list. It was the perfect gift for Keselowski’s boss, Roger Penske, who was named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019 earlier in the week.

"Nothing better than to start off Memorial Day weekend than to get a win," said Keselowski. "It's hard to pick a place to start. To be quite honest, it was an eventful day. The rain and what happened there with the strategies (was tough), but so far this week has been a great week

"It was hard to execute today but we were able to persevere. It was hot today. It was smoking in the car. That's just part of the challenge of racing on days like this. I knew I needed to execute the restarts. I just needed to be flawless. That was really important there at the end."

Keselowski started on the pole faced an early challenge from perennial Xfinity Series favorite Kyle Busch, who led the opening lap before Keselowski wrestled the lead away on lap two.

For the first 100 laps it was Keselowski and Busch trading the lead up front, with Busch managing to win both the first and second stages in what was shapping up to be another dominating Charlotte performance by Busch.

Following a round of pit stops with 43 laps to go, Daniel Hemric grabbed the top spot from Keselowski while Busch became mired back in tenth behind the cars that elected not to pit.

On the restart, Busch made an aggressive three-wide pass on the inside of Dylan Lupton when his left side tires hit the edge of the wet grass on the end of the frontstretch, sending Busch spinning right into the path of Chase Briscoe.

With Busch out of the picture, it was open season for Keselowski, who powered his way past Hemric to take over the top spot on lap 161.

Both the Xfinity and Cup Series had been chasing the weather all weekend, with rain cancelling one of the two Cup Series practices earlier in the day and pop-up storms threatening all afternoon.

With 25 laps to go, the skies finally opened up, forcing NASCAR to throw the red flag.

After a nearly one-hour delay, racing resumed with Keselowski still out in front, holding the lead over Bell, who was right on the cusp of chasing Keselowski down before the final caution for debris with two laps to go set up NASCAR overtime.

At the start of the three-lap shootout, Keselowski got a good jump and pulled out to a .4-second lead as Bell couldn’t get going on the restart, allowing Custer to power past to take second.

Brad Keselowski beats Cole Custer to the stripe
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Custer tried chasing down Keselowski over the final two laps and looked to be reeling in the leader, when a crash on the backstretch on the final lap ended the race before the final turn.

The runner-up finish was Custer’s best showing of the season, and just his second top-five.

"In our backyard, this is real important. We have had good speed all year with our car. We just haven't had the finishes," said Custer. "We wish we won there but it was a run we needed. This will be good for the long stretch we have coming up. I'm looking forward to the next few races.

"It was so important to try and get a run. We were just trying to get some clean air, which was pretty tough. The 22 (Keselowski) obviously had the most air and he won. Our car was pretty good all day. We were just trying to get track position. When we had clean air, it was huge. It was a big difference when compared to the middle of the pack."

Bell racked up his seventh top five finish of the season, but was convinced he had a shot of catching Keselowski had the race gone green.

"I was just heartbroken whenever I saw that piece of debris fly off those lapped cars," said Bell. "Felt like we were really getting – starting to make some runs there. I think we were coming to two to go and I was getting the top going pretty good in (turn) one and two. Felt like I was going to have shot at him if the yellow didn’t come out and then obviously when the yellow came out, I did have a shot at him and just didn’t execute on that last restart.

"I had better tires than him and just didn’t execute. I’m going to be curious to look at the restart there and see if – see what happened and why I couldn’t get going. Bottom line, just didn’t do a good job accelerating there and that’s all she wrote."

The third-place finished pushed Bell to second in the points standings behind Sadler, while Reddick fell to third. Daniel Hemric moves to fourth in points over Custer.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 1 22 Brad Keselowski Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford 204 77 0 Running
2 2 0 Cole Custer Haas Automation Ford 204 29 48 Running
3 7 20 Christopher Bell # Rheem Toyota 204 0 46 Running
4 14 3 Ty Dillon Nexium 24HR Chevrolet 204 0 0 Running
5 13 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Chevrolet 204 0 32 Running
6 15 11 Ryan Truex Phantom Fireworks Chevrolet 204 0 31 Running
7 17 21 Daniel Hemric South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet 204 3 33 Running
8 3 18 Kyle Busch NOS Energy Drink Toyota 204 93 0 Running
9 19 2 Matt Tifft KCMG Chevrolet 204 0 30 Running
10 16 61 Kaz Grala NETTTS Ford 204 0 27 Running
11 9 98 Chase Briscoe Ford Ford 204 0 27 Running
12 25 5 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 204 0 25 Running
13 21 39 Ryan Sieg Night Owl Contractors Chevrolet 204 0 24 Running
14 36 0 Garrett Smithley FAME/fame-usa.com Chevrolet 204 1 23 Running
15 5 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota 204 0 39 Running
16 8 12 Austin Cindric # Pirtek Ford 204 0 21 Running
17 26 35 Joey Gase Sparks Chevrolet 204 0 20 Running
18 28 15 Joe Nemechek jdmotorsports.com Chevrolet 204 0 0 Running
19 37 78 Ray Black II JW Transport LLC Chevrolet 204 0 18 Running
20 35 52 David Starr Extreme Kleener/Whataburger Chevrolet 204 0 17 Running
21 33 76 Spencer Boyd Grunt Style Special Chevrolet 204 0 16 Running
22 11 60 Ty Majeski Ford Ford 203 0 15 Running
23 4 9 Tyler Reddick Pinnacle Financial Partners Chevrolet 202 0 15 Running
24 31 8 Tommy Joe Martins Chevrolet 198 0 13 Running
25 38 45 Josh Bilicki # Prevagen Toyota 198 0 12 Running
26 18 4 Ross Chastain Florida Watermelon Association Chevrolet 198 0 11 Running
27 39 55 Brandon Hightower Premier Recycling LLC Toyota 197 0 10 Running
28 32 1 Vinnie Miller JAS Expedited Trucking LLC Chevrolet 194 0 9 Running
29 40 16 Ryan Reed Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford 192 0 8 Running
30 24 66 Timmy Hill CrashClaimsR.Us Dodge 189 0 7 Running
31 12 42 Jamie McMurray(i) DC Solar Chevrolet 181 0 0 Accident
32 10 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet 180 0 13 Accident
33 23 28 Dylan Lupton Fatal Clothing Ford 168 0 4 Accident
34 27 36 Alex Labbe Can-Am/Wholey/Cyclops Gear Chevrolet 140 0 3 Accident
35 20 51 Jeremy Clements AllSouthElectric.com Chevrolet 135 0 2 Running
36 22 38 JJ Yeley RSS Racing Chevrolet 134 1 1 Fuel Pump
37 6 23 Chase Elliott Hooters 22nd International Pageant Chevrolet 98 0 0 Transmission
38 34 90 Josh Williams Star Tron/Star Brite/Sleep Well Chevrolet 26 0 1 Oil Leak
39 29 93 Jeff Green RSS Racing Chevrolet 5 0 1 Vibration
40 30 99 BJ McLeod Chevrolet 3 0 1 Vibration

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