NASCAR's secondary series has officially concluded their 2014 season.
Homestead, Fla. – Matt Kenseth raced to victory in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday evening. To gain the win, he had to persevere through two late-race restarts and six overtime laps for the trip to the victory stage.
The Nationwide Series season finale was the last race as title sponsor for the insurance company.
The Wisconsin native finished .395 seconds ahead of teammate Kyle Busch to win for the first time in 2014 and for the 29th time in his NASCAR Nationwide Series career. He led three times for a total of 52 laps, including 26 of the final 31 laps. .
“We kept getting those restarts near the end, and I got away good,” Kenseth said. “On that second-to-last one, I was able to get rolling well. We had a really good car, especially on short to mid-range runs, and it kind of fell into our hands, except for last few cautions. It did work out, and we got out front, having the speed we needed.”
Added crew chief Kevin Kidd, “It is a great victory for us after a long dry-spell. Some of our guys got to victory lane for the first time, and it was great to see the smiles on their faces. This is a total team effort.”
A beaming Joe Gibbs stated, “The Nationwide Series is a big part of what we do at Joe Gibbs Racing. I don’t know how many times Matt (Kenseth) has had the lead, but we would get nipped on restarts. I’m glad this one came out on the other end. It was a good night for us.”
Kyle Busch just misses out
Said Busch, “We had a strong car, but somewhere in the middle we started falling behind, but Adam Stevens made s some great race calls and some good adjustments to get our car handling better. (At the end) it was a race among Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson and myself, and that’s the way it came down at the end. We have come up a little bit short this year, but shoot I don’t know what else I could have done.
For the second night in a row Kyle Larson thrilled the crowd with his skilled driving, and he came home third after leading 111 laps.
“We were able to lead a lot of laps, a lot more than I’ve probably led in my career. That was fun,” he commented but expressing disappointment not getting the win. “(We were) really close to a win today.”
Had Larson chosen a different lap on the last restart, he said the outcome may have been different. “Who knows, it’s hard to--it’s easy to go back and point to what you could have done differently, but you never really know if it would have been a different result.”
Fourth and fifth were Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher. Completing the top-10 finishers were Regan Smith, Ty Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott.
Chase is officially crowned champion
Chase Elliott clinched the series championship a week ago at Phoenix, and the teenager was officially crowned champion tonight, becoming the youngest champion in NASCAR national series history at 18 years, 11 months and 18 days. Previously, Brian Vickers was the record-holder at 20 years, 0 months and 2 days.
For JR Motorsports, they won its first Nationwide Series champion. Owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. fielded his first car as an owner at Homestead nine years ago. Overall, the team has won 21 Nationwide races.
Grazing the wall near the end, Elliott finished 17th.
For the second consecutive year, Team Penske took the owners’ championship with its No. 22 Ford. With five drivers behind the wheel, the team scored five wins, 23 top five’s and 29 top 10s.
“It has been a great day,” Roger Penske said. “I thought that race would never get over. I think we had a green-white-checker and all we had to do was finish 25th, but you never know. This was a team effort at Team Penske. I think we have four championships here over the last few years, and that’s really important as we go forward. Tomorrow is a big day, but I’ve got two boxes checked off now, and I want to get one more tomorrow.”
Six caution flags slowed the race for 48 of the 206 laps.
The race took two hours, 40 minutes and 36 seconds to complete, and Kenseth averaged 115.442 miles per hour.