Keselowski Rolls to Nationwide Victory

B.Keselowski

Brad Keselowski and teammate Sam Hornish Jr. led a one-two Penske Racing sweep in Saturday's Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. (Photo: Getty Images)

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Brad Keselowski scored his fourth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, capturing Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

Although he’s not running all the series races, Keselowski has won his last four starts - Richmond, Kentucky and Iowa last weekend.  His victory gave Penske Racing three wins in the last four races.

Keselowski’s teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished second after starting on the pole.  Brian Vickers placed third with Regan Smith fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth.

The victory is Keselowski’s first at Watkins Glen.  He had six top-10 finishes, including three runner-up results, in either Sprint Cup or Nationwide before Saturday.

"It feels really good to break through whatever barrier that might have been," Keselowski said after his 24th career Nationwide win.  Keselowski admits he can’t explain Penske’s success at Watkins Glen.

"From the very first time I got in a Penske car at Watkins Glen, it was like, 'Wow!  If I don’t screw this up, we’re going to run well,' " Keselowski said.  "That was certainly the case today."

Points leader Austin Dillon finished 12th and saw his advantage shrink to three points on Hornish and five points on Smith.  Sadler is fourth in the standings, 12 points behind Dillon.  Vickers is next, 18 points out of the lead.

Dillon had fuel pick-up issues that slowed him at times.  He also missed a turn at the "Bus Stop" section of the course, forcing him to stop on an auxiliary road to avoid a penalty.

Even with all that, he managed a smile after the race.

"We lost a lot of time with the fuel cell," said Dillon, who added the team will take the same car to next week’s race at Mid-Ohio.  "Our whole model ... these two road-course races can lose us the championship, but they can’t win us the championship."

Hornish is looking to take advantage of these two road courses and did so Saturday.  Watkins Glen marked his third runner-up finish in the last four races.

"(With) about five laps to go, I had to have a little bit of a gut check on what was more important -winning the race or getting some points," he said.  "I did everything I could do to pressure Brad.  I wore my stuff out trying to keep with him and I got to the point where I about spun twice trying to pressure him, and trying to figure out a way to get around him.  I just decided it would be a little bit better to get the points out of it."

Vickers scored his second consecutive third-place finish.

"The last pit stop was great and we just ran out of time," he said.  "I think we had a car that could’ve raced for the lead if we would’ve just been up there with them."

Smith’s fourth-place finish ended a streak of three finishes outside the top 10.

"We needed that run for momentum," he said.  "We’ve had fast racecars and a lot (of stuff) had happened the last couple of months."

Others didn’t have as good a day.  Kyle Busch crashed in the first corner of the first lap.  He finished 24th.  Busch spun underneath Hornish and Mike Wallace slammed into Busch’s car.

"It needs a whole new left-front suspension," Busch radioed his team.  "Sorry guys.  It’s killed."

Busch was told to take the car to the garage so the team could make repairs.  The No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing car is racing Penske Racing’s No. 22 for the car owner’s title.  Gibbs’ car saw its lead on Penske’s car shrink to five points Saturday.

Kyle Larson’s race ended early when his engine blew, bringing out the caution on Lap 43.  Larson finished 30th.  That allowed him to leave earlier than he anticipated to compete in Saturday night’s Knoxville Nationals sprint car event in Iowa.

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