In what could be a trial run for Sunday, Brad Keselowski led 62 laps on the way to winning the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It seemed like it could really fall anyway,” Keselowski said of the race that saw eight lead changes in the final 46 laps. “Certainly not a gimme race by any stretch of the imagination. We had to earn it, and we did that with a strong, consistent day.”
Tires also plagued Darrell Wallace Jr and Chris Buescher early on. Overnight rain washed the rubber off the track, creating a challenge for drivers.
“Everyone was very concerned about tire wear during green-flag stops,” said Keselowski’s crew chief, Greg Erwin. “Brad did a good job of keeping the tires on the car and we just kind of knew we he had a little bit (more) in the tank at the end.”
Keselowski now has two wins in eight Xfinity races this year and will look to ride his momentum into the Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500. He starts on the pole for that race.
“It doesn’t really matter once the green flag drops what we did today,” Keselowski said.
The win clinched Team Penske its third straight owner’s championship.
Points leader Chris Buescher finished 11th and now leads Chase Elliott by 24 points with two races left.
HOW BRAD KESELOWSKI WON: He passed pole-sitter Austin Dillon with 11 laps to go, then survived a three-way battle with Dillon and Kevin Harvick before settling in for the win.
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Kevin Harvick had to pit three times under caution around Lap 79 but sprinted to the front of the field to finish second after leading 24 laps early … Ty Dillon started ninth and ended the day in the fifth as the highest finishing Xfinity regular. He has 11 top-10 finishes … Erik Jones finished fourth in his second of three races this weekend. He starts sixth in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Darrell Wallace Jr. started from the rear in a backup car, but pitting early for a bad tire would relegate him to finishing three laps down … Mike Harmon brought out the first non-competition caution when he stalled on the backstretch on Lap 79 … During that caution Kyle Busch’s problems began. The No. 54’s shifter rod broke, limiting him to only fourth gear. Busch would drive to the top five, but difficulty getting up to speed after pit stops caused Busch to finish 14th … Kyle Larson had led 50 laps when he and his left-rear fender fell victim to a shredded tire. Larson, who has two career Xfinity wins, finished 33rd.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “If I waste my time focusing on what he’s doing, I’m going to be in trouble.” – Ty Dillon on if he noticed Chris Buescher was points racing.
WHAT’S NEXT: DAV Honoring America’s Veterans 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 14 at 4 pm ET on NBCSN