LOUDON, N.H. – New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens had a new staff member helping to clean up the track following the Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 Sunday.
Minutes after taking the checkered flag, Brad Keselowski was in victory lane with a broom sweeping away empty cans in victory lane.
Before he got his hands on a trophy, Keselowski was greeted in victory lane with a broom to signify an absolutely dominating weekend in Loudon.
Saturday Keselowski led 152 of 200 laps to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 500 in Loudon.
And that dominating theme carried to Sunday for Keselowski, who led 138 laps on the way to wining the Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“The team was just really on today,” Keselowski said. “It really feels like we’ve hit our stride. I’m kind of quiet and somber because I want to soak it all in. I don’t want this moment to go away so quick. It seems like when you get in victory lane and you’re rushing around left and right you don’t get a chance to soak it in. This was such a phenomenal weekend. And these don’t happen that often and that’s what makes it special. You try to appreciate and enjoy them and hope that there’s more, but not count on it. These are big deals, winning races at the Sprint Cup level and sweeping a weekend.”
The race was extended to 305 laps because of a late caution.
Kyle Busch, who was second to Keselowski Saturday, completed the top-two repeat with a runner-up finish Sunday. Rookie Kyle Larson was third. Keselowski was the 13th different winner in the last 13 Sprint Cup events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, tying a series record for consecutive events at a track without a repeat winner.
It was the third victory of the season for Keselowski, which mathematically clinched his spot in the 16-driver Chase for the Championship playoff.
Keselowski won the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship, but fell to 14th in the standings in 2013. Keselowski said he feels like his Penske Racing team
“In a lot of ways we’re stronger than in 2012,” Keselowski said. “I don’t think we had this much speed before. We had tremendous speed today and I think there’s potential left. That’s all very encouraging to me. I feel like I’m in a really strong rhythm. I think some of last year’s struggles put me in a spot to work harder and become a better racecar driver. I think we’re combining all those things and we’re seeing the fruits of that labor, and there’s more to come.”
It was the first career Sprint Cup Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Keselowski. In Keselowski’s nine Sprint Cup starts at Loudon before Sunday had led just 26 of the 2,632 laps he had raced. Team owner Roger Penske’s optimism for Sunday was raised watching Keselowski dominate Saturday.
“I knew that watching him yesterday, I think the fact that he takes the time and effort to run on Saturday, I think that gets him in a rhythm,” Pensek said. “It’s proven that way time and time again.”
Keselowski took the lead from Jeff Gordon on lap 270 and led the rest of the way. Busch’s last hope came on a green-white-checkered restart on lap 304, but there was no catching Keselowski.
Asked if he had anything for the race winner Busch, who led 62 laps on the day, said: “Oh no. No, I don’t think anybody did.”
“I felt like we had a good car, but late in the runs it would just seem like I was burning up the front tires a little too much and guys were able to get by me,” Busch said.
Middletown native Joey Logano, Keselowski’s Penske Racing teammate, saw his hopes for a good day end on lap 212 when he ended up in the wall after contact with 72-year old Morgan Shepherd. Logano, was running second, and Shepherd was 14 laps down from the leaders when the incident took place.
Shepherd was making his second start of the season. He was last earlier this season in Phoenix after completing 28 laps. Logano ended up 40th in the 43 car field. Shepherd finished the race, ending up 39th, 27 laps down from the leaders.
“I got taken out by the slowest car out there,” Logano said. “You would think there would be some courtesy to the leaders. We were in second place. He gets out of the way on the straightaway and then goes into the corner and slides right up into the lane I was in. Whatever. I don’t know. … It is just dumb that it happened. I feel like that should be stuff that shouldn’t happen at this level of racing.”