Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Keselowski dominates Watkins Glen, fourth straight win

Brad Keselowski has come about as close as one can come to winning at Watkins Glen International (WGI) over the past couple seasons, but never found his way to victory lane.

In 2011, the 2010 Nationwide Series champion didn’t race the Nationwide Series race at WGI; resting his broken ankle for the Cup race the following day.

Kurt Busch drove Keselowski’s No.22 to victory lane that day.

Monday’s rain-delayed Cup race saw Keselowski drive his way to a second-place finish behind Marcos Ambrose; his best career finish at the legendary road course.

Keselowski found himself close to victory again in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup in 2012, finishing second in both races. But still, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion hadn’t found his way to WGI’s victory lane.

Saturday’s Nationwide Series race looked to be Keselowski’s day after pre-race favorite Kyle Busch crashed in the first turn on the first lap, ending the series’ wins leader’s chances at victory.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s misfortune led to a prosperous day for the Penske Racing trio of Keseloski, Sam Hornish Jr., and Joey Logano.

The three drivers were fixtures at the front of the field throughout the day with the No.22 of Keselowski leading a race-high 46 of the race’s 82 laps.

Despite dominating, Keselowski had to find his way back to the lead late in the race as his teammate, Logano, tried to stretch his fuel tank to the end, putting himself at the head of the pack.

A pass by Keselowski entering turn one allowed Hornish Jr. to bypass Logano as well as the No.48 dropped back to third. Logano would run out of fuel with two laps to go.

The final laps of the race showcased Hornish Jr. in hot-pursuit of Keselowski’s No.22, desperately trying to pick up his second win of the season.

“I was overdriving the crap out of the car trying to pressure Brad,” Hornish Jr. said. “I just wore my stuff out trying to do everything I could do to figure out how to keep with him and keep pressuring him.”

In the end, Keselowski would pull away to win Saturday’s Zipp0 200 at WGI.

“I thought he was going to beat me,” Keselowski said about Hornish Jr. in the closing laps. “He’s a helluva road course racer.”

Saturday’s win marks the second time in as many races that Keselowski and Hornish Jr. have finished first and second. The pair finished in the exact order last Saturday night at Iowa Speedway.

The win was Keselowski’s fourth in his last four starts in the Natiownide Series, putting him in a category with the legendary Sam Ard as drivers that have accomplished that feat.

Keselowski’s win streak is tied for the second-most all-time behind Ryan Newman and Mark Martin.

While Hornish Jr.’s second-place finish may have been disappointing in the outlook of the race, his championship hopes improved with the top-five finish as he now sits just three-points behind leader Austin Dillon in the standings.

“We’ll go to Mid-Ohio and try to improve,” Dillon said after salvaging a 12th-place finish in what was a rough day at WGI.

The Nationwide Series will make their inaugural stop at the Mid-Ohio road course next week Saturday for a 200-mile battle on the tight and twisting road course.

Zipp 200 Unofficial Results 

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Sam Hornish Jr.
  3. Brian Vickers
  4. Regan Smith
  5. Elliott Sadler
  6. Parker Kligerman
  7. Justin Allgaier
  8. Cole Whitt
  9. Nelson Piquet Jr.
  10. Trevor Bayne
  11. Brian Scott
  12. Austin Dillon
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Brendan Gaughan
  15. Travis Pastrana
  16. Reed Sorenson
  17. Landon Cassill
  18. Kasey Kahne
  19. Kyle Kelly
  20. Jeremy Clements
  21. Joey Logano
  22. Michael Annett
  23. Bryan Silas
  24. Kyle Busch
  25. Derek White
  26. Andrew Ranger
  27. Mike Bliss
  28. Eric McClure
  29. Tony Raines
  30. Kyle Larson
  31. Carl Long
  32. Anthony Gandon
  33. Joey Gase
  34. Kenny Habul
  35. Morgan Shepard
  36. Blake Koch
  37. Jeff Green
  38. TJ Bell
  39. Josh Wise
  40. Mike Wallace

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