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NASCAR Xfinity: Brad Keselowski returns No. 22 to victory lane

Brad Keselowski celebrates his win of the Pocono Go Green 250 at Pocono Raceway on June 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Brad Keselowski celebrates his win of the Pocono Go Green 250 at Pocono Raceway on June 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Brad Keselowski passed Kyle Larson on the last lap of the Pocono Go Green 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., on Saturday and drove the No. 22 Team Penske Ford to its first win since 2015.
“Never give up, man; you know,” Keselowski said. “I just pushed as hard as I could. It looked like Kyle’s car was struggling just a little bit.”
Justin Allgaier also got by Larson on the final lap to take runner-up honors and relegate Larson to a third-place finish.
“We tried to make it interesting, but we just didn’t have the speed to pass the 22,” Allgaier said. But, all in all, a good day.”
The race was a sweep for Keselowski, as he led a race-high 29 laps and won both of the 25-lap stages that made up the first half of the 100-lap race.
Varying pit strategies came into play in the second half, a trend that Cole Custer began by pitting just before the end of the first stage and staying out at stage end to restart the second stage with the lead.
Custer’s strategy paid off with a net gain of seven positions. After starting the race in the top-five, he dropped back to 10th in the opening laps. After staying out to start stage two in the lead, he finished the second stage in third position.
Kyle Benjamin started on the pole for his second-career Xfinity Series race and led the first 21 laps before Keselowski took the lead on lap 22. Custer then led in stage two until Keselowski retook the lead on lap 39.
Keselowski, Benjamin and Larson stayed out at the end of the second stage and took four tires under green when most of the race field cycled through green-flag pit stops in the final 40 laps.  Keselowski gave up the lead to pit with 37 to go, and with strategies varying with some taking fuel only and some taking only two tires, he was mired back in the field.
Meanwhile, Allgaier and Brendan Gaughan stayed out, waiting for a caution that came for a Brandon Jones crash with 23 laps remaining. Most of the other cars in the field pitted with them, But Custer and Keselowski stayed out.
“We had a really solid car,” Custer said. “I thought Jeff (Meendering, crew chief) had a really good strategy and got us up there. I think me and one of them just got our communication a little bit messed up there on how we were gonna push each other going into turn one, but it was a good day. We had a solid car and made a lot out of it, got to lead some laps, so I’m really happy with our Haas Automation Mustang.”
On the final restart, Larson moved into the lead and Keselowski wound up outside the top-10.  Keselowski got up to third with eight laps to go, and with four laps remaining, he took second from Allgaier.
“We were leading or second or whatever it was. Elliott (Sadler) gave me a good push to clear the 00 (Custer), but it carried all the way into turn one,” Keselowski said. “I got down there and my rear tires were off the ground and went straight, trying not to back it into the wall. Kind of never give up. I felt like 30th. I drove by a bunch of cars and just pushed as hard as I could. It looked like Kyle’s car was struggling just a little bit, and he was getting tight in the middle, loose off. He was doing a really good job holding it low, so I couldn’t get a run. Just on the last lap, I got on his bumper and got him loose. He was trying to do the side draft thing down the backstretch and all the way down the apron. That had to look pretty cool.”
Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Gaughan, Custer, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Matt Tifft. Benjamin wound up 16th after starting on the pole and leading 28 laps. He was the only driver other than Keselowski to lead more than 20 laps.
The yellow with 23 laps to go was the only caution other than the two yellow flags that separated stages. Paul Menard did spin and hit the inside retaining wall at the halfway point of the race, but his wreck was at the point of the caution that split the second stage from the third.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on June 10, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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