Keselowski breaks through with first career win at Daytona in Coke Zero 400


Brad Keselowski can check a big one off his bucket list — he finally won a race at Daytona International Speedway, claiming Saturday’s Coke Zero 400.

Keselowski’s victory was the 100th Sprint Cup win for Team Penske, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Runner-up Kyle Busch challenged Keselowski on the final lap, but Keselowski was just too strong. While he’s won four times at Talladega Superspeedway, the other restrictor-plate track on the circuit, this was his first victory at Daytona.

“Them guys were doing a heck of a job, Kyle and Kurt (Busch) work together real well,” Keselowski said. “My teammate, Joey Logano, was a huge part of this. Two great cars here from Team Penske and worked together really well. On that (last) restart, he gave me the push I needed.”

MORE: Stats and results of Coke Zero 400

MORE: Harvick still leads standings, but Keselowski now a close second

Keselowski led 115 of the race’s 161 laps – one lap beyond the scheduled distance because of a late caution

Ford officials were happy, as four of the top five – Keselowski, Trevor Bayne (third), Joey Logano (fourth) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fifth) – and five of the top eight drivers (pole-sitter Greg Biffle in eighth) were behind the wheel of Ford Fusions.

Denny Hamlin, who won the season-opening Daytona 500, led at the halfway mark, but finished 17th.

There were just five cautions in the race, with the most notable for a 22-car wreck on Lap 90.

Among those involved were: Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Regan Smith and Chris Buescher.

HOW KESELOWSKI WON: Getting a big jump against the Busch brothers on the final restart with two laps to go was what won it for Keselowski. He also got a lot of help from teammate Joey Logano, a former Daytona 500 winner.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: It was a great night for Roush Fenway Racing with all three of its drivers in the top eight: Trevor Bayne (third), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fifth) and pole-sitter Greg Biffle (eighth). … Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon came back from earlier incidents to finish sixth and seventh, respectively. … Clint Bowyer, who has struggled this season, placed ninth, while Michael McDowell finished 10th.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Because of the big 22-car wreck on Lap 90, points leader Kevin Harvick finished 39th, preceded by Paul Menard (36th), Jimmie Johnson (35th), Jamie McMurray (34th), Chase Elliott (32nd), Kasey Kahne (30th), Martin Truex Jr. (29th) and Matt Kenseth (28th).

NOTABLE: Tony Stewart wrecked on Lap 148. While he finished 26th, Stewart earned enough points to climb into 30th in the Sprint Cup point standings. Having won last week at Sonoma, Stewart is now eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He’ll have to be in the top 30 following the September race at Richmond to clinch one of the 16 Chase berths.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Here we are, it’s Daytona victory lane, I don’t care if it’s not the 500. It’s Daytona and this is huge. I love this place. God, it’s amazing.” – Brad Keselowski.

WHAT’S NEXT: Saturday night, July 9, Quaker State 400, Kentucky Speedway, 7:30 p.m. ET start, TV: NBCSN.

Follow @JerryBonkowski