Brad Keselowski enjoys ‘every moment’ of best Sonoma finish of career

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Before Sunday, Brad Keselowski had never finished better than 10th and had only led seven laps in his Cup career at Sonoma Raceway.

The Team Penske driver improved those stats significantly by finishing third in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, a race he enjoyed “every moment” of.

He did it after leading 17 laps in the middle of the race’s final segment in a pit strategy bid that never came to fruition.

“It looked like it was putting us behind, but we had such a great long‑run car that it played back out for us, which was great,” Keselowski said. “In fact, I think we were hoping to catch a yellow and didn’t catch it. If we would have, I think that would have been the race‑winning move.”

Instead, after battling with teammate Joey Logano for a time, Keselowski pitted with 17 laps to go. But both he and Clint Bowyer were able to charge to the front as the laps dwindled down and the leaders began conserving fuel.

“When you have a car that great, you just ‑‑ you really enjoy every moment of it, and today was a day I really enjoyed,” Keselowski said.

Keselowski now has just one track where he’s never scored a top-five finish: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Keselowski finished 28th in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2 behind Jimmie Johnson.

The only blemish on Keselowski’s day was a run-in with Bowyer on Lap 23, when he made contact with Bowyer in Turn 8 and sent the No. 14 Ford spinning off course. The contact left Keselowski’s left-front fender bent out of shape, but it never caused him any problems.

“I had the slip‑up there and got into Clint and that really stank, but other than that, just an incredible race car, and really a pleasure to drive,” Keselowski said.

Sitting at fifth in the points, the Team Penske driver now heads to Daytona where he will attempt to defend his win in last year’s Coke Zero 400. Keselowski won the summer race at Daytona and the following race at Kentucky last year.

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Stage 1 winner AJ Allmendinger blows engine at Sonoma

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AJ Allmendinger lost the engine on his No. 47 Chevrolet on Lap 33 of Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway, not long after winning Stage 1.

Allmendinger was running in 13th when the engine blew, a result of a bad shift. It is his first DNF at Sonoma.

The JTG Daugherty Racing driver, a favorite to contend in road course races, had started the race in fifth and made it to second before drifting back.

Once the race leaders pitted with four and three laps left in the stage, Allmendinger took the lead.

Allmendinger has started in the top five in the last five Sonoma races and not finished better than 14th.

“I haven’t missed a shift on a road course in 10 years,” Allmendinger told Fox Sports 1. “Just me. I was trying to be so patient, so smooth with it. It was unexpected. It’s on me. I let everybody down here.”

Jamie McMurray also experienced a mechanical issue that caused his engine to shut off and lose oil pressure. He was pushed to the garage.

 

 

NASCAR community pays tribute to World of Outlaws driver killed in crash

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The NASCAR community paid tribute to World of Outlaws driver Jason Johnson, who died after a sprint car crash Saturday night at Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) Raceway.

Johnson crashed after a restart racing for the lead. Witnesses said that Johnson’s car flipped and went through billboards outside Turn 3, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Johnson won the 2016 Knoxville Nationals. He finished sixth in the points last year in the World of Outlaws.

 

Today’s Cup race at Sonoma: Start time, lineup and more

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There has been a different winner in each of the last nine Cup races at Sonoma Raceway, site of today’s Cup race. Those nine winners have been Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.

Will there be a 10th different winner at the road course?

Here is all the information for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley will give the command to start engines at 3:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:13 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 110 laps (218.9 miles) around the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEMBroadway Under The Stars in Sonoma Valley, Transcendence’s Meggie Cansler will perform the anthem at 2:55 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 80 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick led the final 22 laps to win last year’s race. Clint Bowyer placed second. Brad Keselowski finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for full qualification results.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Sonoma

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Nate Ryan

Martin Truex Jr. He probably had the best car at Sonoma last year; his team closes the deal this season.

Dustin Long

Kevin Harvick. No one can stop him on an oval or a road course.

Daniel McFadin

William Byron pulls off a shocking win in his first Cup race at Sonoma.

Dan Beaver

Jamie McMurray seesaws through the field, but gets track position in the closing laps.