Brad Keselowski completes New Hampshire sweep
LOUDON, N.H.—Brad Keselowski completed a flawless weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and won Sunday under a green-white checkered finish.
Keselowski followed up Saturday’s Nationwide Series victory with his first Sprint Cup win at New Hampshire, dominating in the No. 2 Ford for his third victory of the season.
After the last caution came with four laps left, Keselowski pulled away on the final restart to become the first driver to sweep the weekend in track history. He had the fastest car most of the weekend, even leading the speed charts during both Sprint Cup practices on Saturday.
“It is every driver’s dream,” he said. “Every once in a while, you get these cars and thankful and try like hell to not screw them up.”
Keselowski tied Jimmie Johnson for the series high in wins. Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinched spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, provided they attempt to qualify for the final seven races before the cutoff.
Pole sitter Kyle Busch was second. Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman completed the top five.
“I don’t think anybody had anything for,” Keselowski, Busch said.
Keselowski hopped out of his car and grabbed an oversized broom to give a playful sweep of all the confetti already collected around the Ford.
Keselowski had been in a slump with, of all things, his victory celebrations.
He needed four stitches to close a wound he received during his Victory Lane celebration in the Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. He tried to open the bottle of champagne by hitting it against a podium, and the bottle broke and cut his hand.
Keselowski dropped the American flag out of his No. 22 Ford on Saturday and was retrieved by an official to let the frivolity continue.
He joked he brought Kevlar-reinforced gloves that were touted as cut-proof.
Good thing. The New Hampshire winner traditionally receives a live lobster in Victory Lane.
He led 138 of 305 laps (four more than the scheduled 301) and helped Ford to its fourth straight win. Ford last won four consecutive Sprint Cup races in 2001.
Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Joey Logano was running inside the top five late in the race when he connected with Morgan Shepherd. The 72-year-old Shepherd, who extended his mark as the oldest driver to start a race in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, was about 15 laps down when his No. 33 slid up into Logano.
“I feel like there should be a driver’s test before you get out in a Cup car and make sure you know how to drive before you drive one,” Logano said.
Shepherd was 39th and completed 278 laps.
It’s an accident. Those things happen,” NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. “It could happen to anybody. It could happen with any competitor.”
Six-time NASCAR champion Johnson was knocked out of the race early after two rear left tire issues. The first time the tire was flat; the second time, the tire exploded and slammed the No. 48 Chevrolet into the fence. He finished 42nd.
Goodyear said the tires weren’t the problem.
“The tires failed in a manner consistent of low inflation pressure,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, said.