LAS VEGAS – Brad Keselowski refused to let a sour alternator stop him from winning Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski, driving the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang for Team Penske, dominated Saturday’s race. He led 144 of the 200 laps run Saturday, but it looked as if a bad alternator in the final 20 laps was going to cost him the race.
Keselowski was the race leader during the final restart on lap 168 and was able to pull out to a solid lead when the outside lane stalled going into turn one. Kyle Busch, who started from the rear of the field after his team made unapproved adjustments after qualifying, was running second as he attempted to chase down Keselowski.
With about 15 laps left Keselowski reported to his crew that the alternator on his car had failed and his battery was losing power. At the time he had a 1.5 second lead over Busch, but that lead quickly began to dwindle as the laps clicked off.
By lap 190 Busch had cut the race lead to less than a second. Five laps later things got tense for Keselowski as rookie Dylan Kwasniewski slapped the wall in turn two right in front of him. Keselowski avoided disaster, but the incident allowed Busch to close the gap to just .272 of a second.
Busch tried everything he could in the last few laps, but he ran out of time. Keselowski got to the checkered flag first, beating Busch by .349 of a second. The victory is Keselowski’s first at Las Vegas in Nationwide Series competition.
“We found every way we could to make it hard,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “This Ford was flying today. I didn’t feel very good about it in practice but when they dropped the green it was just an amazing car.
“These races aren’t getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could every lap, especially knowing Kyle was coming there, especially at the end. We were having some troubles with the engine (alternator) there and I knew it was just a matter of time. I was just trying to get through as much traffic as I could and extend that time.
“It felt good that everything worked out there at the end.”
Busch said post-race that he did everything he could to catch Keselowski. Busch, who has a victory at Las Vegas in Sprint Cup competition, remains winless at his hometown track in Nationwide competition.
“Our car was superfast on the long run when guys would get their tires up and use up everything and what not,” Busch said. “Best motor won today, that’s for sure. Probably best car. He (Keselowski) was really good. I don’t know. That’s all we had.”
Kyle Larson finished third despite damage to his No. 42 Chevrolet when he bounced off the wall at the exit of turn four early in the race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth ahead of his teammate and rookie Chase Elliott in fifth.
Matt Kenseth, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher and Regan Smith completed the top 10. Polesitter Ty Dillon finished 11th after getting busted twice for speeding on pit road.