RICHMOND, Va. – Brad Keselowski drove by Kyle Busch late in Friday’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway to earn his second NASCAR XFINITY Series victory of the season.
The long run proved to be Keselowski’s best friend on Friday night at the three-quarter-mile D-shaped oval. Wheeling the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, Keselowski spent most of the night chasing Kyle Busch.
Busch started from the pole and led a race-high 182 laps, but the final stage saw the field complete 89 consecutive green flag laps. That worked right into Keselowski’s hands.
At the wheel of his No. 18 Toyota, Busch restarted with the lead at the start of the final segment on lap 162. Keselowski restarted third and moved into second on the restart and began chasing Busch.
Keselowski briefly took the lead on lap 173, going around the high side of Busch down the backstretch to take the lead. Busch cut back under Keselowski coming down the frontstretch and was able to get the lead back entering turn three on the next lap.
Once back in front, Busch slowly pulled out to a 1.5-second lead as Keselowski tried to keep pace. Soon Keselowski began to make up time on Busch, gaining a tenth here and a tenth there. Finally with 20 laps left Keselowski had tracked Busch back down and the battle for the lead was on.
The pair were trapped in lapped traffic, but with 17 laps left Keselowski saw his opening. As Busch tried to work the outside around the slower car of Blake Koch, Keselowski went to the middle to get a run on Busch.
Keselowski stayed to Busch’s inside and was able to clear Busch to take the race lead with 16 laps left in turns one and two. Once in the lead, Keselowski was on cruise control as he easily drove to a 3-second victory over Busch.
“He’s a great racer and when you can race with him you know you’re having a good day,” Keselowski said of Busch. “The Fitzgerald Glider Parts Ford Mustang had a lot of speed on the long runs, not exactly where we wanted to be on the short runs, but still good enough to be right there.
“We kind of hung with him and got those long runs and I was able to pounce.”
Busch admitted that Keselowski simply had the better car on the long run and that there wasn’t much he could have done to stop him.
“He just had a better long run car. Every time, every run we had he was able to get by us there after about 45-50 laps,” Busch said. “I was trying to get out there a little bit and we were working each other earlier in the run. I thought I’d beat his tires up but he was just able to come back through. Oh well. The NOS Energy Camry was good, just not good enough.”
Ty Dillon, who used a tire strategy call to win the first stage of the race, finished third. Daniel Hemric was the highest finishing XFINITY Series regular in fourth, with Elliott Sadler finishing fifth. Sadler’s fifth-place effort was enough for him to clinch the regular season NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, which is worth 15 playoff points.
Christopher Bell, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brennan Poole completed the top-10.
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