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Brad Keselowski fends off Kyle Busch for Vegas Nationwide win

Las Vegas had been one of the few tracks that neither Brad Keselowski nor Kyle Busch had won at in the Nationwide Series, so it was fitting that Saturday's race came down to a duel between the pair.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings

Despite their huge successes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, history has hitherto conspired to keep both Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch out of victory lane at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But on Saturday, it was finally time for one of the two to break the jinx by clinching the chequered flag - although the matter came down to a tense duel between the pair as the laps ran out at the end of the 2014 Boyd Gaming 300.

"It's been one that we've missed out on over the last few years and it kind of feels a little like redemption to clear it out and get it done today," said the victorious Keselowski. "I've been on the other side of that before, and it's easy to forget how lucky you are.

"I had a lot of fun today," he added after a tense finish. "The end wasn't a lot of fun, but the rest was a lot of fun. The three-wide passes and the restarts and all that stuff, that was great racing."

It had been Ty Dillon leading the field to the green flag having won his first pole position in 15 Nationwide Series starts with a lap of 29.625s (182.278mph) just 0.094s ahead of Keselowski who started alongside the series rookie on the front row, ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Larson. Dillon led for the first nine laps before finally succumbing to Keselowski, after which he was also passed in quick succession by Matt Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr., while Larson dropped back after snapping up the track and glancing the wall - fortunately without any serious after effects for the #42.

The race ran caution-free for the first 56 laps, a vital period that allowed Kyle Busch to storm back from having to start at the back as a result of his crew needing to make changes to the #54 after qualifying. It took Busch only a little over 30 laps to make it back into the top five, and he gained two more spots during the initial round of pit stops that just preceded the first yellow flag for debris. At the restart on lap 71, Keselowski was beaten by Kenseth who was given a boost from his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate, but it was short-lived before a new yellow materialised for Dylan Kwasniewski who was turned sideways in turn 3 by contact from Chris Buescher.

Keselowski quickly went three-wide to recover the lead at the next restart on lap 75 with Kenseth dropping back to fourth behind Busch and Earnhardt, and Chase Elliott - in fifth place ahead of Brian Scott and pole winner Ty Dillon - the first of the Nationwide Series regulars with only ten cars still on the lead lap. The leaders ran to lap 120 before their second round of green flag pit stops, Busch beating Keselowski off pit road but the pair still running behind off-sync Kyle Larson and Regan Smith for a further ten laps until they came in for their own deferred stops. The pit stops proved a disaster for Dillon, who was handed a pit lane speeding penalty and then a second for speeding on the drive-thru which meant a more punitive stop-and-go.

A new yellow on lap 148 for debris and Mike Bliss' engine expiring put all the cars within reach of the finish after the ensuing round of pit stops under caution; Busch won the race off pit road again, after Keselowski skidded through his pit box and had to be backed up before his crew could get to work. That dropped him down to fifth place for the restart on lap 154 behind Kenseth, Earnhardt and Elliott. Another three-wide move from Keselowski put him right back in contention with Busch and Kenseth, and it was the #20 that briefly assumed the lead before then getting turned sideways in turn 4 on lap 159. A big wreck appeared inevitable but Kenseth somehow controlled the slide and got the car pointing in the right direction again without getting collected by the oncoming traffic; in the circumstances, a drop to just eighth place was a minor motor racing miracle.

The restart on lap 164 was truncated by a spin by Ryan Sieg in turn 2. Despite concerns about his alternator, Keselowski quickly pulled out a second lead over Busch at the next green flag on lap 167 with Kyle Larson slipping into third place ahead of Earnhardt and Elliott. The electrical issues did take their toll on the #22 as the race ran uninterrupted to the chequered flag despite both Kwasniewski and Smith hitting the wall in the closing laps, but Keselowski had enough pace left to keep the lead even when he hit a gaggle of lapped traffic in the final moments.

It meant that Keselowski had claimed his first-ever Nationwide win at Las Vegas, his 28th win in 208 Nationwide starts having led for 144 of the 200 laps at LVMS - boding well for Keselowski's hopes here in the Sprint Cup race on Sunday for which he also starts from second place on the front row.

"Kyle's one of the best in the business, and he deserves a win here, and he's been real close, just like we have,” said Keselowski afterwards. "These races aren't getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could every lap, knowing that Kyle was coming there, especially at the end.

"We were having some troubles with the engine there, and I knew it was just a matter of time before he caught me. I was just trying to get through as much traffic as I could and extend that time and was counting down the laps. It felt good that everything worked out at the end."

That left a clearly disappointed Busch, denied a Nationwide victory at his home track yet again but admitting that the #22 had simply has the edge when it counted: "The best motor won today, that's for sure. Probably the best car, he was really good. That's all we had.

"I don't know what caused us to lose the lead, that was unfortunate - I think that was the race. Our car was super fast on the long run," Busch added, explaining that it was losing the lead at the short-lived penultimate restart that ultimately cost him the race. "I stepped on the gas, and it felt like I was holding a parachute, the way those guys went by me," said Busch. "I was third before I even got to turn 1. Junior was pushing me there for a little bit. I don't know happened, if he fell off me or what, but ... it just wouldn't go."

Chase Elliott held on to fifth place to finish as the highest of the series results. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship standings, Regan Smith now leads the point standings by just three points over Trevor Bayne after the two finished in tenth and eighth place respectively in Las Vegas.

Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings



Related Pictures

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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, races during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, leads the field near the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, races Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with an American flag after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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