There was no stopping Brad Keselowski at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon, as he romped home to win the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday afternoon in absolutely dominant form despite strong runs from Carl Edwards, Elliott Sadler and Paul Menard.
Keselowski contested the lead with polesitter Carl Edwards from the start and had just hit the front before the first caution on lap 4 caused by Mike Wallace getting loose and spinning, which also caught out Derricke Cope who ended up hitting the wall when he couldn't slow-up in time.
Keselowski continued to lead through until lap 41 when there was a debris caution and everyone took the opportunity to pit, which gave Edwards the chance to lead a couple of laps under caution before Keselowski cruised back in front at the green flag and stayed there through another debris caution/pit stop combo on lap 62 to still be leading by 3.785s when Timmy Hill blew his engine on lap 86 and put oil down on the track.
The ensuing pit stop was the only time Keselowski fumbled all night, when he stalled the car when it came time to leave his pit box. "My fault," Keselowski radioed in. "I wasn't ready when you dropped the jack."
That dropped him down to 14th place - and it took him all of six laps before he cruised back to the lead past Aric Almirola. He would then lead the next 75 laps, through another blown engine caution for Josh Wise on lap 142 (at which point Keselowski had built up a whopping 10s lead over Paul Menard in second place) up to the final caution of the night on lap 173, which was triggered when Angela Cope spun and hit the wall at turn 2. The pit stops allowed Carl Edwards to take the lead for the restart with 21 laps to go, and now Keselowski had a moment of doubt about whether he could convert his race form to a win at the flag after all.
"The first few laps that I was behind him, I was pushing so bad in his air that I had some serious doubts," said Keselowski. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, this is going to be another one of those days.' But I was able to move my line around and find clean air."
"Fortunately, there at the end, I did get a chance to race with him a little bit," said Edwards, but he knew that it was just a matter of time before Keselowski recaptured the lead. "Brad's car was so fast ... I knew after about 30 laps that, unless something happened, we were going to be racing pretty hard for second place."
Keselowski took the low line past Edwards on lap 186, and then led the final 14 laps to win the race by nearly 3s. Overall, Keselowski had led 173 of the 200 laps of the race, a level of dominance that tied Kyle Busch (2009) for the most laps led by any driver in a single race at Kansas. It was his fourth Nationwide win of the year, but the first time he has won on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. He'll doubtless be hoping that this display gives him a boost for the Chase for the Sprint Cup race at the same venue on Sunday.
Elliott Sadler was the leading Nationwide Series regular in third place, despite reporting a strong odour of burning in the cockpit early in the race which was eventually diagnosed as brake pad-related. However, with Nationwide championship leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finishing close behind in fifth place, there is no change in the top 18 positions of the points standings and Stenhouse remains 20pts ahead of Sadler.
In third place in the championship is Reed Sorenson, who was unexpectedly ousted from his regular Turner Motorsports seat mid-week and found an emergency one-off berth for Kansas in the #82 MacDonald Motorsports usually taken by Scott Wimmer. Sorenson will need to find a deal for the remaining four races of 2011 if he's to avoid plummeting in the standings.
Danica Patrick was also in action, a week before her final IndyCar appearance in Vegas ahead of her switch to Nationwide full-time in 2012. She finished 15th and on the lead lap, 17s off the leader.
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