Brad Keselowski passed Joey Logano for the lead with 16 laps to go, then held off Sam Hornish Jr. to win the Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday in a dominant performance for Penske Racing.
Keselowski, who finished second to Carl Edwards despite leading more than half of this race a year ago, won for the fourth straight time over five months in NASCAR’s second-tier series. It was his 24th career Nationwide win, tying him with Tommy Houston for eighth place on the career list, and first victory at The Glen. Keselowski has finished second twice to Marcos Ambrose in the last two Cup races here.
Brian Vickers was third, followed by Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler. Logano finished 21st after running out of gas on the final lap, his team’s fuel strategy coming up just short.
Hornish won the pole and the two teammates set sail at the outset after Kyle Busch crashed on the first turn of the 82-lap race.
Busch started second but lost control of his No. 54 Toyota, sliding sideways after apparently tapping the rear bumper of Hornish as they drove through the first turn, a downhill 90-degree right-hander. Busch’s spotter had just cleared him to make a move under Hornish.
Busch briefly touched the Armco barrier that lines the track and was OK, but Mike Wallace, in midpack, pulled right to make a pass and slammed the left front of Busch’s car.
"I’m sorry guys," Busch said over his radio as he drove to the garage for repairs. Busch, who was seeking his ninth victory of the season and 60th in the series, finished five laps down in 24th.
Wallace’s No. 01 Chevrolet was crushed, too, as was his psyche.
"I went to the right, Wallace said. "You wouldn’t expect him to be spun out that early in the race. We were just trying to get through the first lap. It’s disappointing."
After that, it was a show between Hornish and Keselowski, who led 49 laps as the three Penske Fords combined to lead all but nine laps.
Hornish managed to close on Keselowski’s back bumper with six laps remaining, but that was as close as he got as the reigning Sprint Cup champion pulled away over the final two laps.
"I was focused on trying to pass the 22 (Keselowski)," Hornish said. "I had driven for over 100 percent and I couldn’t even get beside him. I could get up to his bumper. I just had to settle down a bit. I needed to sit there and ride."
Smart move. Hornish closed to within three points of the series lead behind Austin Dillon, who struggled with a sputtering car and finished 11th.