Brad Keselowski wins Richmond Xfinity race

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After passing Kyle Busch for the lead with 16 laps to go, Brad Keselowski went on to win the Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway.

It is Keselowski’s second Xfinity win of the year and 36th of his career.

“(Busch) is a great racer and when you can race with him you know you’re having a good day, especially in this series,” Keselowski told NBCSN. “We kind of hung with him and got those long runs and right at the end I was able to pounce.”

The top five were Keselowski, Busch, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Elliott Sadler, who clinched the regular-season title.

In his last Xfinity race of the season, Busch led 182 of the 250 laps before Keselowski overtook him for the last time.

“He had a better long-run car, every time, every run he was able to get by us after 50, 45 laps, whatever it was,” Busch told NBCSN. “We were working each other pretty hard there earlier in the run. I thought I beat his tires up, but he was able to come back up through there.”

With only three cautions, two at the end of stages, only nine cars finished on the lead lap.

Keselowski won with backup crew chief Brian Wilson because Greg Erwin was suspended after the No. 22 failed post-race inspection at Darlington last week.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowksi

MORE: Race Results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth in his second and final Xfinity start of the year. He was the last car on the lead lap … Christopher Bell finished sixth in his first Xfinity start at Richmond … Cole Custer finished 14th and clinched a spot in the playoffs … Matt Tifft placed 13th and also clinched a playoff spot … Jeremy Clements assured himself a top 20 points finish and clinched a playoff spot after finishing 16th … Ty Dillon’s third-place finish is his best result of the year in 21 starts.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Bobby Earnhardt, making his first Xfinity start, caused the only non-stage ending caution when he blew a tire and hit the wall on Lap 53. He continued and finished 34th … Brandon Jones spun from contact with Ross Chastain on the last lap of Stage 1. He finished 23rd … Brendan Gaughan finished 21st, two laps down.

NOTABLE: Keselowski’s four wins at Richmond are his most at any track in the Xfinity Series … Brian Wilson is the sixth crew chief Keselowski has won with in Xfinity.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I knew Kyle (Busch) wasn’t going to just let me have it so I had to force something there. Whenever you make a pass for the lead and the win by going three-wide it is really damn cool.” – Brad Keselowski on his winning pass of Kyle Busch.

NEXT: Chicagoland 300 at Chicagoland Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 16 on NBCSN.

Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 at Miami, Brad Keselowski leads Championship 4 drivers

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Kyle Larson won Stage 1 of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, dominating by leading 67 of the stage’s 80 laps, holding a nine-second edge when he took the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, here’s how the four Championship 4 drivers finished after the first 80 laps of the scheduled 267-lap event: Brad Keselowski is second, Kyle Busch is third, Kevin Harvick is fourth and Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

Truex, with six of his seven wins this season coming on 1.5-mile tracks like Homestead-Miami, wasted little time to take the lead away from pole-sitter Denny Hamlin.

The first caution of the race came out on Lap 6 when Joey Gase appeared to blow a tire and hit the Turn 1 wall hard.

During the subsequent pit stop, the only Championship 4 driver to hit pit road for four new tires was Keselowski, putting him off-sequence of the other contenders.

The move worked, though, as Keselowski quickly climbed from ninth on the restart on Lap 9 to third by Lap 12 and second by Lap 14.

Larson, who also pitted with Keselowski, took the lead away from Truex on Lap 13 and held on for the remaining 67 laps of the stage.

On Lap 38, Jimmie Johnson blew a right rear tire and came to pit road for four new tires. Even though there was no caution, all four championship contenders pitted over the following two laps.

On Lap 58, Harvick passed Truex and into third place for the first time in the race, zeroing on Keselowski in second.

Johnson got into the wall again on Lap 60, even though there was no caution, and sustained moderate damage, pitting for four tires and fuel.

Kyle Busch passed Harvick to take over third on Lap 77.

Sixth through 10th were Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer.

Watch: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans on what the driver means to them

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The fan base of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is large and devoted.

Those fans, affectionately called “Junior Nation,” has voted Earnhardt as NASCAR’s most popular driver 14 years in a row.

Justin Hartley of NBC’s “This is Us” is a member of Earnhardt’s fan base. The actor narrates the above essay on the close relationship between the driver and his fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to Bob Costas about his career, legacy before final Cup start

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Sunday marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s last start as a full-time Cup driver in NASCAR.

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas sat down with the 14-time most popular driver before the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to get Earnhardt’s thoughts before he climbed in the No. 88 Chevrolet for the last time.

Earnhardt addressed what he hopes his legacy will be after 20 years in the sport as a driver, including his impact on attitudes towards concussions in sports in general.

Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports in 2018, also talked about what life has in store for him in the near future.

Earnhardt also made sure to credit his devoted fan base for making his career possible.

“I understand the driving force behind my success and opportunity in this sport, whether it be inside the car or outside the car, is all because of Jr. Nation,” Earnhardt said. “This year we’ve tried our best to show appreciation to them.”

Watch the above video for the full interview.

 

Furniture Row Racing going for Cup title after year of success, tragedy

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It’s been a historic year for Furniture Row Racing, the Cup team that has its base of operations in an old water bed factory in Denver, Colorado.

With Martin Truex Jr. piloting the No. 78 Toyota, they won a team record seven races and a series record six races on 1.5-mile tracks. Combined with a dominating performance under the new stage racing format, Truex has put the team in its second Championship 4 in three years.

But it’s also been a season of perseverance and tragedy.

NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan narrates the above video essay on the story of Furniture Row Racing’s 2017 season.