Brad Keselowski Successfully Defends US Cellular 250 Crown

by August 3, 2014

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

NEWTON, Iowa. — Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) rolled into victory lane for a Nationwide Series race for the third time this season after taking the win in Saturday night’s US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.

Keselowski earned his 30th career series victory with a commanding performance that included the driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford leading 146 of the 250 scheduled laps. The 2010 series champion took advantage of a late pit strategy miscue by his toughest competitor of the night, Sam Hornish Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing), to drive away from the rest of the field on a late restart to secure his win. Keselowski would fend off Michael McDowell (Joe Gibbs Racing), Trevor Bayne (Roush-Fenway Racing), Hornish, and Ty Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) to win his third career race in Iowa.

“You can never take these races for granted,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “Sam [Hornish Jr.] and Michael McDowell – they just ran hard and they ran a great race. I kind of feel lucky to win it, I didn’t get through Turn 1 very well on the restart and Michael had me cleared and I just barely pulled a move around him in 3 and 4.”

“…everyone from Team Penske on this team did such a great job,” he continued. “We really want to win the owners’ championship for Roger and this will probably be the last time I come to Iowa and so it’s good to leave here with a win. I really want to see Ryan Blaney and up-and-coming drivers drive this car – I know there’s a lot of people watching that want to see Nationwide-only guys in this car but the circumstances didn’t work out for that. I’m glad to be here, glad to support this team, and glad to be in victory lane in Iowa.”

Bayne led the race for the entirety of the first green flag run from the pole position but the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford of Keselowski would take over the lead shortly after a Lap 31 restart from a debris caution. Pit strategy would come into play early in the race as several teams would pull their drivers down pit road for service yet others would elect to keep their drivers out for longer runs. These variances of strategy placed Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing) in the lead on Lap 54 in the midst of a caution period for the stalled car of rookie Tanner Berryhill (Vision Racing.)

Once the green flag would be redisplayed, Sadler’s lead would be short-lived as his JGR teammate Hornish would assume the lead on a green-flag pass on the No. 11 Stratasys Toyota. Hornish would hold the lead in his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota for 12 laps until Keselowski would once again make a green-flag pass for the lead on Lap 73. A lengthy green-flag period allowed the No. 22 car to escape from the rest of the field until a Lap 109 caution for debris would bunch the field back up, causing Hornish would seize the lead once again by beating Keselowski off of pit road.

Hornish would lead a majority of the next green-flag stretch before Keselowski’s car would come to him on the long run as he would pass the No. 54 car on Lap 164. Keselowski would hold the lead through the last two cautions of the night – Dakoda Armstrong (Richard Petty Motorsports) brought out the fourth caution of the night by spinning in Turn 2 on Lap 185 while James Buescher (RAB Racing) would have an accident on the frontstretch on Lap 243, setting up a four lap dash to the finish.

Keselowski would struggle a bit to get going on the final restart as McDowell would clear him and was looking ready to set sail towards his first ever Nationwide Series victory. McDowell’s lead would be short-lived as Keselowski would power his way back around the No. 20 Pizza Ranch Toyota on Lap 248 and would ultimately cross the finish line ahead of McDowell by .886 seconds.

Bayne would bring home $100,000 with his third-place finish by virtue of being the highest-finishing Dash 4 Cash driver, claiming the final Dash 4 Cash of the 2014 Nationwide Series season.

Regan Smith (JR Motorsports) would finish ahead of his teammate and points leader Chase Elliott (JR Motorsports) in Saturday night’s race and will trail his teammate by only two points heading into next Saturday’s Zippo 200 at the Watkins Glen International circuit.

Top-10 Finishers of the US Cellular 250

  1. 22 – Brad Keselowski(i) – Ford – Team Penske
  2. 20 – Michael McDowell(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  3. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
  4. 54 – Sam Hornish Jr. – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  5. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  6. 7 – Regan Smith – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  7. 2 – Brian Scott – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  8. 9 – Chase Elliott# – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  9. 42 – Dylan Kwasniewski# – Chevrolet – Turner Scott Motorsports
  10. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing

Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 20 of 33

  1. 9 – Chase Elliott# – JR Motorsports – 714 | Leader
  2. 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 712 | -2
  3. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Richard Childress Racing – 702 | -12
  4. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Joe Gibbs Racing – 702 | -12
  5. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Roush-Fenway Racing – 673 | -41
  6. 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 673 | -41
  7. 60 – Chris Buescher# – Roush-Fenway Racing – 586 | -128
  8. 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 584 | -130
  9. 16 – Ryan Reed# – Roush-Fenway Racing – 538 | -176
  10. 99 – James Buescher – RAB Racing – 533 | -181

# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Nationwide Series points