Brad Keselowski doesn’t have the hear the words “winless in the truck series” again as after the UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Champion can call himself a winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It means a lot, as a driver. I don’t want to understate that,” Keselowski said. “My family has been part of this series since its inception – from a kid watching to now here as a driver and owner. I wasn’t able to get there before because I chose to do it the hard way; a lot of people know I do things the hard way. We’re here and I’m proud of everyone that got me here. I’m proud as a driver – I don’t want to understate it – but there are a lot of young guys on this team that are aspiring Cup mechanics and work through it.”
Keselowski would pass Kyle Busch for the lead with 71 laps to go before holding off both Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr. in the final laps as he battled through the lapped trucks. Keselowski becomes the 25th driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s national series, while he and his father Bob Keselowski become the first father/son duo to win races in the Camping World Truck Series.
Wallace Jr. tried everything possible in the book in the final sprint to the checkered, getting all the way up to Keselowski’s back bumper, but was unable to get by as he finished second for his seventh top 10 finish of the season.
“Trying to gather myself, trying to replay every option. We finished second and I wish I could take it back and try again,” he commented post-race. I would’ve had to wreck him to win, and I respect Brad too much to do it. We had to get on it on the restart, and tried to get right up there and came up just short. It felt good to pass the 51 (Busch), though. We’ll go to Canada, figure out how to turn right and have some fun.”
Ron Hornaday finished third, followed by the ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.
“We fought loose, loose the whole time since the very first run,” Crafton said. “We made an adjustment near the end and just stepped over the line, and were a little tight. We just needed track position at the end as we probably would’ve had something for him.”
“I tried to go to the top, and I was just too free,” Sauter commented. “I was just committed to the bottom and we were decent on the long run, but just way too free. We made an adjustment before with a spring to make it free to race at night, but couldn’t go back on that. A wise man told us that if you can’t win at Bristol, finish the race so that’s what we did.”
John Hunter Nemechek finished sixth to tie his best career finish for the third time this season.
“It was a lot of fun,” the teenager said. “We had a great truck today. It seemed the longer we ran, the more it came. I can’t thank all these guys enough for this truck. We ended up better than I thought that we did.”
Joey Coulter would battle through a sinus infection to finish seventh.
“I think I was the only one that was glad it rained, because it let me get another good night sleep,” he commented. “These guys don’t have any quit in them. It doesn’t matter how rough qualifying or the practice is, they keep laughing with jokes and it keeps me pumped up.”
Cole Custer would finish eighth, followed by Ben Rhodes and Corey Lajoie. Busch would have a flat tire after contact with the wall with 26 laps to go, resulting in a green flag pit stop and a 24th place finish. Gray Gaulding also had a flat tire with 20 laps to go while running inside the top 10, finishing 23rd.
With his top-five finish, Sauter keeps the points lead, eight points ahead of Crafton, 17 ahead of Hornaday, heading into next weekend’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
“We just need to go there and be smart,” he commented. “I had fun with it last year and look forward to getting up there and seeing a lot of great race fans.”