Watkins Glen, N. Y. – Brad Keselowski displayed his road-racing prowess at Watkins Glen International on Saturday as he raced to victory in the Zippo 200. For the Michigan native, he scored his first-ever victory at The Glen and took his fourth consecutive Nationwide Series race and the 24th of his accomplished career.
The victor drove the Hertz Ford, one of three entries from the Penske Racing stable. Starting fifth Keselowski wasn’t to be denied as he passed teammate Sam Hornish Jr. early-on and was hardly challenged until the finish. He led 46 of the 82 laps.
“Today was an excellent day and all three Penske cars were extremely fast,” the victor said. “When Kyle (Busch) got torn up at the start, it became apparent that all three of our cars had a shot to win the race, as long as we didn’t do any dumb things. At the end, I had the car and the execution to make it happen. Sam (Hornish Jr.) was really fast and had he been ahead of me at the end, the outcome might have been different. That last pit stop we got out in front of Sam, worked our way through traffic and ended up in victory lane.”
Stated crew chief Jeremy Bullins, “It is a great weekend for Penske Racing. It is pretty cool to come here with three identical cars and run 1-2-3 at times, and then to finish 1-2 is very special. These races are about execution, and the team did a good job today. Once we got out in front, we managed the team from there.”
Hornish brought his Penske Truck Rental Ford home second, 1.418 seconds behind his teammate. Starting from the pole after breaking the qualifying record, Hornish ran at the front of the field throughout, leading 15 laps along the way.
“It was a good day – fastest in practice and qualified on the pole,” he stated. “I think Brad and I had a great race out there. I could pressure him towards the end of the race, but just was never close enough to where I could take advantage of anything. With about three to go, I got really sideways in the bus stop, and I thought, ‘Man, that would be real dumb if I spin this thing out running second,’ so we pushed hard to try to do what we could do. I was driving a little bit too hard to be comfortable and I wanted to bring the car home in one piece.”
Brian Vickers brought the Penske running order by grabbing third place in the late going. He drove the Dollar General Toyota.
“We lost track position early and kind of got off base a little, but we were able to get it back in the end. The last pit stop was great¸ but we just ran out of time,” the popular driver said.
Fourth place went to Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler garnered fifth.
In the point battle, Austin Dillon has a three marker advantage over Hornish and leads Smith by five.
Sixth and seventh place went down to the wire with Parker Kligerman edging new father Justin Allgaier.
Eighth through 10th were Cole Whitt, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
Joey Logano, the third Penske driver, ended up 21st after running low on fuel at the end. He led 12 laps and at times, Logano and the other two Penske Fords were running 1-2-3.
Kyle Busch started in the front row but crashed in the first turn on the opening lap, sending him to the garage for extensive repairs. Losing seven laps in the process, Busch returned to action in quest of owner points and drove to a 24th place finish.