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NASCAR Xfinity: Kyle Busch wins after Brad Keselowski miscue in New Hampshire

nhms_nxs_vl_071517By AMANDA VINCENT

Four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers competed in Saturday’s Overton’s 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Loudon, and three of them — Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, who had combined to win seven of the last eight Xfinity races at NHMS, and Kyle Larson — combined to dominated the race.

Busch won Saturday’s race for his third victory in six starts in 2017 and his sixth-career Xfinity win at NHMS. Larson and Keselowski, meanwhile, were the two stage winners,with Larson taking the win in stage one and Keselowski in the second 45-lap stage.

Those three Cup regulars were the only three drivers to lead double-digit numbers of laps, combining to lead all but 10 laps of the 200-lap race, led by Keselowski’s 102 laps led.

Keselowski took his last lead of the race from Busch on lap 102 and was on his way to what looked like a dominant win, but a pit miscue during a green-flag cycle of pit stops with about 30 laps remaining took him out of contention. He pitted from the lead but left his pit box with a gas can still attached, resulting in a pit-road penalty. He managed to stay on the lead lap and in the top-five. But he was a distant fifth, nearly a lap down, to Busch, who re-assumed the lead.

“It was a huge difference,” Busch said of Keselowski’s penalty. “That was a game changer; you know? A day changer for us, for them and for everybody, so, you know, but I want to give thanks to my guys and everyone on this NOS Energy Drink team, everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, Eric Phillips [crew chief], mu guys; they work real hard, and they do a great job, and we were right there. We were close, but we were a second-place car today, and yet, it all takes teamwork, and my guys, they came together on pit road when it mattered most right there at the end and gave me a fast pit stop. We got out front. I think we kind of coaxed those guys into having to rush themselves and hurry a little bit, and maybe, we put the pressure, and that was the difference today, so great day for us and excited to have the opportunity to be in victory lane, again, here in New Hampshire.”

Keselowski, Busch and Larson ran in the top-five through much of the race, and they were joined in the top-five, first by Ryan Preece, and then, by William Byron in the second half of the race. Preece got up to second by the checkered flag in his first race for Joe Gibbs Racing to give JGR a one-two finish.

“Something I dreamed about, to be honest with you,” Preece said. ‘I didn’t know how today was going to go. Got a limited amount of time in practice, qualified sixth, was a little disappointed in myself, but I told Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) before the race started, I usually get better in the race, so obviously, he made a great call, there, to get two tires instead of four but, man, this one is for all the short track guys out there that might not ever get the opportunity, but I work hard week-in and week-out with that modified, so to be able to have this opportunity to me. I’ve got to thank MoHawk Northeast, Falmouth Ready Mix, DMI Asphalt for coming on board. Lot of people sacrifice a lot to put me in this car, so it means a lot.”

Byron finished third, Larson was fourth and Keselowski rounded out the top-five. Only six cars finished on the lead lap, with the last of those being Ben Kennedy.

The yellow flag waved only three times, with two of those cautions being the dividers between stages. The only on-track incident that resulted in a caution came on lap 30 for a spin by David Starr. During the Starr caution the red flag was displayed for a brief rain shower.

Elliott Sadler, who was the lap leader among Xfinity Series regulars with five laps led as a result of pit strategy, leading five laps, finished seventh. Ty Dillon, the other Cup Series regular in the race, finished eighth. Cole Custer was ninth, and Brennan Poole finished 10th.

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Posted by on July 16, 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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