Keselowski Soars In Nationwide Series Season Finale, Dillon Perseveres To Win Championship

Homestead, Fla. – Brad Keselowski rocketed through the field in the final five laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday evening. The 200-lap race marked the wind-up of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season.

For the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Austin Dillon overcame an ill-handling car to take the title by three points over Sam Hornish Jr. Dillon ran poorly in the first half of the race and fell to 17th at one point. Rallying in the late going, the young driver persevered to finish 12th, four spots behind Hornish.

Dillon’s title was his first and the fourth for Richard Childress Racing.

“For me, it’s all aoubt my guys in this one,” the new champion said. “(Crew chief) Danny Stockman changed my career and he had confidence in me. Tonight more than anything he gave me motivation. We didn’t have the fastest car, and it was ugly the way we did it, but we showed we had heart. We never gave up and it paid off in the end.”

Added Childress, “It’s special, and I can’t thank everyone for all the support. This is another championship with a No. 3; Ausstin won it with a No. 3 in the Truck Seris. I remember before that race was over, I looked up in the sky and said, ‘Old pal, we need you.’ I did that tonight, and he came through.”

For the race winner, he drove the Discount Tire Ford fielded by Penske Racing. He won for the seventh time in 2013 and for the 27th time in 205 NNS races.

His charge to the front came after a lengthy caution flag that slowed the race for 12 laps, setting up a five-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch were the frontrunners, but Keselowski wasn’t to be denied as he rocketed through the field.

“It was checkers or wreckers,” Keselowski said. “I just knew if I was going to win a race, I told (crew chief) Paul Wolfe I was going to bring back the steering wheel or otherwise. With only five laps to go, that’s the only attitude that can win a race. Had that race restarted earlier, I wouldn’t have had that attitude.

“Sometimes you make it through and sometimes you don’t. There were a lot of aggressive moves, and it felt like a video game passing so many cars every lap but that’s what you have to do at this level.”

“This is pretty special for me,” said Wolfe. “I am pretty proud of this program. I am just a small part of what went on tonight, and it is neat to be back in victory lane.”

In addition to being the winning car owner, Roger Penske achieved another milestone when his No. 22 Ford, driven tonight by Joey Logano and previously by three others, earned the NNS owners’ title. This title was a first for the Penske organization.

Said Penske, “First, I want to congratulate Brad and Paul for winning the race. We had the manufacturers’ championship on the line, the owners’ championship and the driver’s championship up for grabs, so there was a lot of pressure. Tonight’s win is something we didn’t know we were going to win until the last lap. Everyone on this team deserves a lot of credit; this is a very special night, but I feel sorry for Sam (Hornish Jr.). I will have to say I have never seen a race that is so important to have to wait 15 or 16 laps (yellow flag clean-up) for a five-lap finish. That was very disappointing from the standpoint of the fans and the other competitors.”

The extended clean-up took came about after a fiery crash took place on the front-stretch, and it seemed to take an inordinate period of time for the clean-up.

NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton said they thought it was just a typical clean-up, but there was more oil on the track than anyone realized.

After being passed by the Keselowski, rookie Larson held on for second after leading 54 laps. He was also named the 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year and became the first NASCAR Diversity driver to win the honor.

Said Larson, “It means a lot to me to win the rookie honors and to add my name to the list of honorees hopefully means I am doing something good.”

Regarding the race, Larson expressed frustration with the outcome. “We had the best car on the long runs but not so good on the short runs. I got into a wall three or four times, and each time it seemed to make my car better. I had a lot of fun but got beat on tires at the end. To get four second-place finishes in my rookie season is something I can hang my hat on.”

In the post-race inspection, Larson’s Chevrolet was found to be too low on the left front, and more action may be possible.

Busch, who led 29 laps, took third place. “Our car was all right, but it wasn’t the best car out there,” he said. “It was a lot tougher for us than we thought it would be, but we came home third, which wasn’t good enough. I hate that we lost the owners’ championship.”

Behind the three front-runners came Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Logano, Parker Klingerman, Hornish, Cole Whitt and Nelson Piquet Jr.

Blake Koch and Austin Dillon were 11th and 12th.

Ten caution flags slowed the race for 49 of the 200 laps.

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