Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Sports

Brad Keselowski lands Roger Penske's 100th Sprint Cup win

DAYTONA BEACH — Brad Keselowski has had his confidence shaken at Daytona International Speedway more than once.

He is a good plate racer, but he could never could find his way to Victory Lane at NASCAR's most famous track.

That changed Saturday night with a dominating performance in the Coke Zero 400 that gave Team Penske its 100th career Sprint Cup victory.

More important, it gave Keselowski his long-awaited first win at Daytona.

Keselowski led a race-high 115 laps, then held off Kyle Busch on a two-lap shootout that sent the race into overtime for one additional lap. It gave him his fifth career Cup win in a restrictor-plate race, but all the others had come at Talladega. He won on the Alabama track most recently in May.

"I don't care if it's not the 500. It's Daytona. This is huge," Keselowski said. "I love this place."

He loved it even when he came up frustratingly short, or not even close at all.

Keselowski said his futility at Daytona was "a kick in the you-know-what," but he and his No. 2 Ford crew kept chipping away at success on the track even after he had a disappointing run in the season-opening Daytona 500.

"I got down on myself here," he said. "I believe in my team, and my team believes in me, and we went to work, and we put together a better car, and it really showed with a great effort from the whole team. I'm really proud of everybody."

The race was marred by a 22-car accident that collected more than half the field and thinned the competition for Keselowski. The accident really left only Kyle Busch as a legitimate contender, but a restart for the two-lap shootout that sent it into overtime forced Keselowski to earn the win.

He easily held off Kyle Busch, and challenger Kurt Busch was eliminated when he was knocked out of line by Joey Logano as they headed to the checkered flag.

Trevor Bayne finished third and was followed by Keselowski teammate Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as Ford drivers took four of the top five spots.

Keselowski credited a push from teammate Logano for helping him shake the Busch brothers on the final restart.

"I was able to get Brad a good push to clear and get a Penske car to victory lane, which is really cool," Logano said. "The 2 was the fastest car, and he deserved to win the race."

It was a plan to work together and disrupt the Toyota contingent that had used teamwork to dominate the Daytona 500. Kyle Busch was the only Toyota driver to finish inside the top 10.

Kyle Larson was sixth and the highest-finishing Chevrolet. He was followed by Austin Dillon, who ended last year's Coke Zero 400 in an airborne accident, then pole-sitter Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer.

Michael McDowell was 10th.

NASCAR award: Longtime NASCAR reporter/editor Benny Phillips is the posthumous recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR media excellence. Phillips spent 48 years with the High Point Enterprise in North Carolina. Phillips, who battled polio throughout his life, died in 2012 at age 74. He also wrote for Stock Car Racing magazine for 27 years and spent 12 years with TBS.

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton clinched the pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix in a qualifying session marked by a heavy crash and a rain delay. His Mercedes teammate, series leader Nico Rosberg, was second, but he will be dropped five places on the starting grid for today's race in Spielberg because of an unscheduled gearbox change after he crashed in the final practice.

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Published: 02/19/18