Though he would’ve liked to clinch it by taking the checkered flag instead of under an umbrella, Brad Keselowski wasn’t about to turn down a win on Friday night in Kentucky.
After a delay of more than an hour with showers expected to continue through the night at Kentucky Speedway, Brad was declared the winner of the Nationwide Feed the Children 300, 30 laps short of its scheduled completion.
BK had taken the lead just 13 laps earlier, but had far and away the fastest car on the track when the rain came. He talked during the delay of wanting to finish under green with a car he knew had the speed to closeout the win, but that wasn’t to be.
“It had certainly been a great race for us. I didn’t want it to end this way, but we had a great car,” Keselowski said. “I feel lucky to get to drive this car. This is the type of car you get like once a year — if you’re lucky. Driving this car I felt like Jimmie Johnson. This is a rocket.”
The win was Brad’s second consecutive in the Nationwide series, though the two came nearly two months apart. He last drove the No. 22 on April 29th in Richmond where he took it to Victory Lane as winner of the ToyotaCare 250. Friday’s victory was also the 22nd for BK in the Nationwide series, moving him into 10th on the series’ all-time wins list.
The victory was Brad’s first ever in a rain shortened race and after being told the race had been called, he jumped in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang for a one of a kind burnout.
— NASCAR Nationwide (@NASCAR_NNS) June 29, 2013
The night didn’t start so great for BK and company, as Brad found himself in the middle of the pack to start the race thanks to a 19th place qualifying run. But once the race began, it was clear that a fluky qualifying run wasn’t going to hold back the No. 22 car.
Kes led at four different points in the Feed the Children 300 and took the lead for the final time shortly after the final pit stop of the night. While most teams took just two tires in that final stop, the Discount Tire team elected to go with four and Brad pulled out of the pits in eighth. But it didn’t take him long to charge to the lead.
“We drove it to the front. Didn’t qualify like we wanted to, but Jeremy Bullins and the Discount Tire team did a great job,” Brad said. “They’ve been working so well with Greg Erwin and Sam Hornish’s team. They deserve these results.”
He passed Elliot Sadler for the lead on Lap 157 and six laps later the caution came out for rain. The field ran seven laps under caution until the rain picked up and forced NASCAR to red flag the race. After waiting an hour to see if storms would pass, officials called the race in favor of Brad with 30 laps to go.
Brad led 59 laps over the course of the 170 that were run and only Kyle Busch, the other Sprint Cup driver attempting the tripleheader this weekend, led more (74). The early parts of the race featured some great battling between Brad and Busch, but Busch lost ground in the pits on the final stop and Brad drove away from him before the delay hit.
The victory was the fourth this season for the Discount Tire team including two by BK, at Richmond and Kentucky, one by Joey Logano in early June at Dover and one last week by A.J. Allmendinger at Road America in Wisconsin.
The success of that trio has the Penske Racing No. 22 car in second place in the owner points standings behind Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing owned No. 54 by only 39 points. Brad believes with the setup they have for the Discount Tire Mustang, they will make a charge at that top spot by years end.
“The last two drivers who’ve gotten to drive it have won races in it,” he said. “Ryan Blaney is going to get to drive it and hopefully he’ll win in it too.”