Brad Keselowski fends off Busch brothers, wins at Daytona
The Coke Zero 400 was a restrictor plate race for the ages with Brad Keselowski dominating at Daytona International Speedway.
Keselowski avoided adversity by running up front for 115 of 161 laps for his first win at Daytona and his 20th career Sprint Cup win.
“Oh thank you guys, a great team effort, very proud,” Keselowski said. “Daytona, Man, that’s really cool.”
“Good job big guy,” team owner Roger Penske said over the radio. “Good job in the pits.”
Kyle Busch finished second followed by Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
There were 26 lead changes among 13 drivers. Keselowski regained the lead for the final time coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 144.
While it appeared 23 cars would finish the race on the lead lap following a 22-car wreck on Lap 90, last week’s winner Tony Stewart became loose in Turn 1 and slapped the wall with 12 laps remaining. Casey Mears plowed into the back of Stewart. Ryan Blaney, Trevor Bayne and Carl Edwards also received damage in the incident. Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy was terminal.
“I got loose into 1,” Stewart said. “I had been loose all day. I over-corrected and got into the wall.”
Keselowski led the field to the green on Lap 155 with Kyle Busch in second and Joey Logano pushing behind in third. Kurt Busch, David Ragan and Denny Hamlin completed the first three rows for the six-lap shoot out.
The 24 cars on the lead lap barely reached Turn 4 before Kyle Larson checked up, causing a chain reaction between AJ Allmendinger and Clint Bowyer. At the back of the pack, Ryan Blaney punted Carl Edwards, who had slowed to reach the melee ahead of him, then shot into the wall.
The fifth caution sent the Coke Zero 400 into overtime with Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Michael McDowell in the top six. Keselowski took the white flag with the side-draft impeding the Busch brothers progress. Coming into Turn 4, Kurt Busch spun at the checkered flag and finished 23rd.
"Those guys were going a heck of a job," Keselowski said of the Busch brothers. "Kyle and Kurt were worked together really well. My teammate, Joey Logano - huge part of this today. We had two great cars here with Team Penske. We worked together really well. Joey's won here and he's really a pro, especially on that restart. He gave me the pushed I needed.
"Here we are in Daytona in Victory Lane. I don't care if it's the 500 or not. It's Daytona. This is huge. I love this place.
"I've gotten down on myself here. We came in for the 500 and quite honestly we ran like dog crap. My team worked on it. I didn't give up on them. I believed in my team. My team believed in me. We went to work and put together a better car. It really showed today with a great effort from the whole team."
Larson, Austin Dillon, polesitter Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer and Michael McDowell rounded out the top 10.
Kevin Harvick, who posted his first DNF of the season after crashing out on Lap 90 and finishing 39th, retained the point lead by 14 over winner Keselowski.
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|Location||Daytona International Speedway|