Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing are back in victory lane once again and it should not surprise a single person. Keselowski won the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen in dominating fashion, leading 46 of the 82 laps.
Keselowski’s win ties Sam Ard for a spot in the top-five for most consecutive wins as it was his fourth in his last four attempts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It’s also Keselowski’s 24th career NASCAR Nationwide Series win, which is tied for eighth of all time with Tommy Houston.
Besides the win, Keselowski’s teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., who was the pole sitter, finished second for the fifth time this year. It was also the third time the combination of Ford’s finished one-two, which just shows they’re stronger than ever. The team also had Joey Logano contending for the win, but he had an ill handling car. Logano’s team used some pit strategy, but ran out of gas with two laps to go, finishing 21st.
Brian Vickers, Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler each gained ground on points-leader Austin Dillon during the race at Watkins Glen. Dillon didn’t run well at all throughout the day, finishing 12th and more importantly, shrinking his points lead to just two markers over Hornish Jr. Smith is four points back while Sadler is 12 points behind and Vickers is 18 points in the whole. Overall, the race brought the championship battle closer together, making things very interesting heading into the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend.
On the first corner of the first lap of the race, Kyle Busch, who started second, spun out and cut across the track, which caused him to hit the tire barriers. Busch had a decent amount of damage on the rear-end of his car. His car was sitting still on the exit of the corner when Mike Wallace slammed into his as Wallace attempted to avoid the cars, which were slamming their brakes in front of him. Both cars received an extensive amount of damage, sending each to the garage. Wallace’s day was done, but Busch came back out on track within eight laps and picked up three laps to finish 24th, five laps down in an effort to gain a few points in the owners championship.
The only other major incident throughout the race was a blown motor by Kyle Larson. It was Larson’s first engine failure of the year and his third DNF. Larson is now eighth in points and is basically out of contention for the championship. Parker Kligerman was the highest finishing rookie as he passed Justin Allgaier late in the going to finish an impressive sixth in his third career start on a road course after finishing eighth a few years ago at Montreal and third at Road America earlier this year. Cole Whitt had a good run, finishing eighth in the No. 44 Toyota as he looks to get a sponsor for a full-time ride next season. Nelson Piquet Jr. and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-10 as they just attempted to end the race with clear quarter panels.
Keselowski’s win marks the 27th win for Penske Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since 2001 and is the seventh win for the team this year. For Keselowski, he looks to take his momentum over to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday afternoon, hoping to lock up his first win of the year in that series after winning the championship last year.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.