Brad Keselowski Makes Strong Statement with Win at New Hampshire

LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - AUGUST 02: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Western Star/Alliance Parts Ford, races during the NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 02, 2020 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Don’t count Brad Keselowski out of the NASCAR Cup championship conversation just yet.  Keselowski held off Denny Hamlin who leads all active drivers with five wins this season, to score his third victory of 2020 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski led the final 81 laps to beat Hamlin by 1.647 seconds and secure the 33rd win of his career and his second at the 1.058-mile track in Loudon, New Hampshire. The Team Penske Racing driver won Stage 2 and lead a race high 184 of the 301 laps.

“We’ve had a lot of great races this year with the 2 car, but we just haven’t really went out and kind of dominated a race,” Keselowski said.  “Talking to Jeremy Bullins and like, ‘Man, what do we need to get to that next level?  We’re right there.  We need to go out and just dominate a race,’ and that’s what today was for us.”

After trading the lead and staging some furious battles all race long, the final 81 laps were run caution free. Hamlin led the second most laps on the day 92, won the first stage, but had nothing for Keselowski in the final long green flag run and had to settle for second.

“We could really do well on restarts and we were going back-and-forth,”: Hamlin said. “Wow, that was some really, really good short track racing there. Hopefully the fans liked what they saw there with me and the 2 for most of the day. Some great side-by-side racing. We treated each other fair and it’s good that we got one-two out of it.”

Martin Truex Jr. was third, Joey Logano came in fourth with Kevin Harvick fifth.

Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch came into New Hampshire with a 20-race losing streak with just six races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. After starting fifth Sunday, Busch scraped the wall off Turn 2 in the early going and shortly after on Lap 16, a cut tire on the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota sent Busch hard into the outside wall at the entrance of Turn 3. He was forced to the garage and finished last.

A light rain in the area forced a caution on Lap 93 but soon dissipated and the green came back out on Lap 100.

Matt DiBenedetto, polesitter Aric Almirola, rookie Cole Custer, Chase Elliott and rookie Tyler Reddick made up the rest of the top 10 in order.

The No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Bubba Wallace and the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford driven by Corey LaJoie had to drop to the rear before the start Sunday when during pre-race inspection both cars were found to have for improperly mounted ballast. The teams were issued a 10-point penalty in the driver and owner standings and crew chiefs Jerry Baxter (Wallace) and Ryan Sparks (LaJoie) were suspended prior to the race. Wallace finished 23rd, LaJoie, 35th, 39 laps down.

Hamlin’s Stage 1 win on Lap 75 was his fourth stage win this season. Keselowski’s Stage 2 win on Lap 185, gives him a series-high six stage wins and shows he is far from out of the title hunt.

“This is the same tire and similar track to Phoenix and we know that’s what you’ve got to do to win this championship,” Keselowski said.  “You have to go win Phoenix and we put on a great showing today.  I’m pumped, I really am.  The playoffs are a long ways away and they’re gonna be tough, but this is certainly a good sign.”

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for a doubleheader Saturday and Sunday.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Loudon, New Hampshire
Sunday, August 2, 2020

1. (4)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 301.

2. (2)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 301.

3. (11)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 301.

4. (9)  Joey Logano, Ford, 301.

5. (7)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 301.

6. (19)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 301.

7. (1)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 301.

8. (14)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 301.

9. (3)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 301.

10. (13)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 301.

11. (16)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 301.

12. (20)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 301.

13. (23)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 301.

14. (31)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 301.

15. (8)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 301.

16. (30)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 301.

17. (10)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 301.

18. (6)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 301.

19. (18)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 301.

20. (12)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 301.

21. (22)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 300.

22. (25)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 300.

23. (15)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 300.

24. (17)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 300.

25. (24)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 300.

26. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 299.

27. (34)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 299.

28. (35)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 299.

29. (29)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 299.

30. (26)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 298.

31. (27)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 295.

32. (32)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 294.

33. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 294.

34. (28)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 293.

35. (33)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 262.

36. (36)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, Accident, 212.

37. (21)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, Accident, 203.

38. (5)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 15.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  100.372 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 10 Mins, 22 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.647 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 52 laps.

Lead Changes:  22 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Almirola 1-2;B. Keselowski 3-57;D. Hamlin 58;B. Keselowski 59-60;D. Hamlin 61-64;R. Blaney 65-69;D. Hamlin 70-97;K. Harvick 98-103;D. Hamlin 104-141;B. Keselowski 142;D. Hamlin 143-145;B. Keselowski 146-172;D. Hamlin 173;A. Dillon 174-176;B. Keselowski 177-183;D. Hamlin 184;B. Keselowski 185-191;D. Hamlin 192-200;B. Keselowski 201-204;D. Hamlin 205;C. Elliott 206-214;D. Hamlin 215-220;B. Keselowski 221-301.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Brad Keselowski 8 times for 184 laps; Denny Hamlin 10 times for 92 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 9 laps; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 6 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 5 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 3 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,19,4,95,2,12,14,22,37,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,11,22,10,24,14,3,19,9,21