LOUDON, N.H. – Brad Keselowski battled Mother Nature, fuel mileage and Denny Hamlin, but came out victorious against all three at the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
New England’s first major sporting event with fans since the start of the pandemic was briefly paused by a rain shower early in the second stage, but the delay didn’t deter excited race fans – and Keselowski didn’t disappoint, leading a race-high 184 laps and holding off Hamlin for the win.
“We’ve had a lot of great races this year with the No. 2 car and we just haven’t really gone out and dominated a race, you know?” Keselowski said. “I was talking to (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and said that’s what we really need to get to that next level. We’re right there. We just need to go out there and dominate a race; that’s what today was for us.”
An 81-lap green flag run to the checkers ultimately helped Keselowski pull away from Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to secure the win, his second at New Hampshire, and with it a live, 18-pound Loudon the Lobster.
“That thing is heavy,” Keselowski told Foxwoods Resort Casino executives during a virtual Zoom trophy presentation after the race. “I don’t know what happened to it the last time – maybe my crew guys ate it – but I didn’t get any. I’m looking forward to getting to enjoy some of this one.”
Despite trading the lead 13 different times over the course of the race, Hamlin had to settle for the runner-up spot for the second year in a row.
“It felt like short track racing, like half-mile short track racing,” said Hamlin. “We were crossing each other over, running into each other and knocking each other up the racetrack. We were doing slide jobs in the middle of the corner. It was fun racing those guys. They were very, very deserving today, and I’m happy for them, because you hate to have a fast car and you don’t finish it off, but I felt obviously the two best cars finished one-two today, and they just got the better end of us. Overall, the racing part of it, I was just having a good time racing there on the short run and even that long run there at the end of the first stage with the Penske cars. It was fun.”
Martin Truex Jr. and New England native Joey Logano joined four-time NHMS winner Kevin Harvick to round out the top five.
Playoff hopefuls Matt DiBenedetto and rookie Tyler Reddick both helped their chances for a championship run with a strong run, finishing sixth and 10th respectively.
The race was marked by 11 cautions, the first of which took out 2019 Cup Series champion Kyle Busch just 15 laps into the race.
Up next at “The Magic Mile” is Motorcycle Week at NHMS, Aug. 22-29, and Full Throttle Fall Weekend featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Musket 200 presented by Whelen, Sept. 11-12.
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