AVONDALE, Ariz. – Brad Keselowski overcame two red flag stoppages for rain and a speeding penalty to conquer Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series DC Solar 200 at ISM Raceway.
In what turned into a marathon event because of two rain delays that totaled nearly two hours, Keselowski found himself in contention early alongside defending race winner Justin Allgaier, . Allgaier won the first stage, but Keselowski got off pit road first in the pit stops that followed.
Unfortunately for Keselowski he was busted for speeding on pit road, which dropped him to the rear of the field. Before the field could return to racing it began to rain, leading to a stoppage of one hour and 37 minutes as NASCAR officials and teams waited out the rain and got the track dry again.
Eventually racing resumed and it was Kyle Busch who took command, taking the lead at lap 54 and leading until the caution flag waved on lap 84 for an incident involving Matt Mills. However, during the caution period it began to rain yet again, leading to another brief red flag for precipitation.
After a 25 minute red flag the race resumed with a one-lap dash to the end of stage two, which was won by Busch. He would lead a part of the field down pit road under the caution flag while the rest of the field stayed out after pitting under caution prior to the second rain delay.
That would give the lead back to Allgaier, followed by Christopher Bell, Brandon Jones, Tyler Reddick and Keselowski. The race got back underway on lap 97 and Allgaier slowly pulled away while Keselowski began to work his way to the front.
With 58 laps left Keselowski did just that, driving by Allgaier in turns one and two to take the lead. He would hold that spot for 21 laps before Bell, who charged by Allgaier with 48 laps left, made his move to take the race lead as the field prepared for green flag pit stops.
Those pit stops came with 32 laps left as Bell, Keselowski and Allgaier all hit pit road. Keselowski and Bell had nearly identical pit stops and the two came off pit road side-by-side. They stayed that way for half a lap before Keselowski pulled clear of Bell.
Keselowski cycled back into the lead with 22 laps left and stayed there for the remainder of the distance to earn his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the season.
“It was a good car, it was a really good car,” Keselowski said. “I felt like the car was better than me today. Justin Allgaier, quite honestly, outdrove me most of the day. At the end connected it with a great pit stop, great pit work, good strategy and got out there on the brand new tires and just barely got by Christopher (Bell) there. I knew once we kind of got by ourself the car would probably carry me a little bit.”
Allgaier managed to get by Bell for second with 24 laps left and closed in on Keselowski in the closing laps, but he couldn’t get close enough to mount a challenge and settled for second.
“As you run these races you want to make good adjustments all day, you want to keep up with the car and be able to get through traffic well. Our guys did a great job,” Allgaier said. “Our Brandt Professional Agriculture Camaro was great today, we just needed that extra little bit at the end.”
Busch came from just outside the top-10 at the start of the final stage to finish third, with Bell coming home fourth. Jamie McMurray, in his first Xfinity Series race since 2013, finished fifth.
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