NEWTON, Iowa – Brad Keselowski overcame an early pit road penalty and overheating issues to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Keselowski started in the top 10 and was running there when polesitter Drew Herring spun to bring out the caution flag on lap 54. The entire field came down pit road for service, but Keselowski was penalized for pitting outside of his box. The penalty meant he started at the tail end of the field during the restart.
Wheeling the No. 22 Ford, Keselowski worked his way through the field but soon found himself battling an overheating engine. A caution flag on lap 140 for Reed Sorenson’s slowing machine allowed Keselowski’s crew to clean his grill and cool down his engine.
While Keselowski was battling his way through the pack, Austin Dillon picked up where he left off in June by dominating at the front. He was the race leader when a caution flag waved on lap 199 when Travis Pastrana crashed in turn four.
The entire field came down pit road for service, with Trevor Bayne taking two tires on his No. 6 Ford to take the race lead. Brian Vickers, Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith also took two tires, with Dillon taking four tires and restarting in fifth.
Bayne held the lead briefly after the restart, but Vickers quickly blew by him on lap 207 to take the lead. Behind them Keselowski was on the march, overtaking Dillon, Sadler and then Bayne to take second on lap 208.
On lap 215 Keselowski caught and made the move around Vickers, taking the lead coming out of turn four. Keselowski’s lead was erased when the caution flag waved on lap 223 when Richard Harriman spun on the front stretch.
The field returned to racing on lap 228 and Keselowski held serve as his teammate Sam Hornish Jr. moved into second. Hornish gave chase over the final 22 laps, but he couldn’t catch the defending Sprint Cup champion as Keselowski earned his third Nationwide victory of 2013.
“When you’ve got a team like this Penske Racing Discount Tire team, they just didn’t give up and they kept working on it and kept fighting back,” said Keselowski, who also picked up a victory as a car owner earlier in the day when Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono. “I knew it was going to be about that last restart and being really aggressive and it was. That is what it’s going to take to win these races when you have to overcome adversity.
Hornish finished second, giving Penske Racing a one-two finish at Iowa Speedway.
“It was a good night,” Hornish said. “Brad was playing with us there a little bit at the end. He let me catch up to him.”
Vickers was third ahead of Dillon, who led a race-high 116 laps. Kyle Larson, who left the track immediately after the race to head to Knoxville Raceway to compete in the Knoxville 360 Nationals, finished fifth.