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Keselowski weaves his way to Nationwide top finish
Brad Keselowski celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series 23rd Annual F.W. Webb 200 Saturday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. (JOSH GIBNEY/UNION LEADER)
LOUDON — Lapped traffic proved to be the difference between a trip to victory lane and a disappointing second-place finish.
Brad Keselowski took the trip. Kevin Harvick suffered the disappointment.
As Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series F.W. Webb 200 wound down, Keselowski rocketed past race leader Harvick, who was forced to slow for unpredictable traffic ahead of him, and won his second series race of the season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway here.
Keselowski led 131 laps in the race including the final 21 after the pass.
Harvick said after the race that whoever was in front was going to win, and he was not happy that he fell to the second-place finish after being slowed by Amber Cope who finished 33 laps in arrears. He led the race from laps 155 to 179.
In speaking of Cope, Harvick said, “It's somebody who shouldn't be on the race track. She doesn't know what she's doing in a race car. She wants to be Danica Patrick and she can't hold her helmet. It (car 24) committed up. I committed down, then it went down.”
► Nationwide Tour F.W. Webb 200 results
Keselowski said, “This is a tough series. Kevin (Harvick) raced me hard and there are very few guys that I'd like to race more than Kevin. I caught a little bit of a break in lapped traffic. That's the way it goes. You're always going to have some traffic.”
It was Cope's second Nationwide Series start of the season. She was red flagged at Iowa after 203 of 250 laps for not maintaining race speed. She did not run the initial 24 laps of Saturday's race because she accidently hit the kill switch in her car, leaving it without power.
She is the niece of former Sprint Cup driver Derrike Cope.
Keselowski has 19 Nationwide victories in 102 starts. His triumph was his first at NHMS in five tries.
Earlier in the day, Keselowski set a Nationwide Series track record qualifying lap of 29.067 seconds, 131.035 miles per hour. The previous record was set by Harvick (130.716 mph) in 2001.
“I've been able to sit on the pole here three times and never won,” added Keselowski. “It feels good to get the job done today.”
The race featured four different cautions periods which allowed teams to complete pit work without having to make any green flag stops. The only lead changes that occurred during live track racing came when Harvick outmuscled Keselowski on a lap 154 restart, and on lap 179 when Keselowski took control of the race.
There were seven lead changes among five drivers.
Finishing third and winning the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash $100,000 sweepstakes was Austin Dillon who climbed to within three points of series points leader Elliott Sadler (628-625).
Dillon had to battle the late-race presence of Sam Hornish Jr., and series defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., to secure the purse. Stenhouse Jr., who has been ill, suffered throughout the race from the 90 degree temperatures at the track, collapsed after climbing from his car after the race. He was treated in the infield care center and released.
“I feel OK now,” said Stenhouse Jr. “They gave me some fluids and got good to go. I think just being a little sick all week, not eating much and not drinking enough fluids caught up with me after the race.”
Stenhouse Jr.,finished fifth while Hornish Jr., raced fourth. The pair maintained their third and fourth postitions , respectively, in the series points standings (612-596).
Danica Patrick made her second stock car start at NHMS and was riding in the top 10 when she was involved in a lap 150 crash. She was credited with a 14th place finish.
In 2010, Patrick finished 30th here in a Nationwide Series race. Last year she raced sixth during the IndyCar event here.
Action sports star Travis Pastrana had a disappointing race marred by several altercations. A flat tire that forced him into the wall during the first half of the race removed him for the competition. But his initial green flag start was nearly as disconcerting.
Pastrana wins Global RallyCross event
LOUDON — Action sports star Travis Pastrana won the Global Rallycross Championship event Saturday night at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Pastrana won the third qualifying heat before notching the victory in the series fourth event of the season.
Other heat winners included GRC points leader Tanner Foust, Brian Deegan and action sports star Travis Pastrana. Stephan Verdier won the last chance qualifier.
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Mark Labore may be reached at email@example.com.