WATKINS GLEN — Another Nationwide start for Brad Keselowski, and another win. And no more seconds at Watkins Glen.
Keselowski won his fourth straight Nationwide start and earned his first NASCAR victory at the Glen Saturday as he charged to victory in the Nationwide Series’ Zippo 200.
The reigning Sprint Cup champion finished second in both the Cup and Nationwide races here last year, and he also had a second in the 2011 Cup race.
On Saturday, he led 46 of 82 laps, including the last 17.
“Today was an excellent day,” said Keselowski, who will start eighth in today’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. “It’s great to break through whatever barrier” that might have been existed, “but the most important one is breaking through after those two second places I’ve had on the Cup side.
“This has been a great track for me. I remember coming here with my dad in the mid- to late 90s and always just having a love affair with the track, whether it’s the different fans and just the atmosphere and ambience. This particular track is something I’ve really taken to and really like. This is the only true racer’s road course, I think, that we run. All the other ones feel like parking lots to me. This is a real road course that has real speed, real banking and genuine handling dynamics. I just really appreciate that and like that about this track.”
Sam Hornish finished 1.418 seconds behind Keselowski after earning the pole Saturday morning in a track-record lap of 123.291 mph (71.538 seconds).
Keselowski and Hornish made for a 1-2 finish for Penske Racing. Joey Logano was running in the top three with his Penske teammates in the late going, but he ran out of gas, came up a lap short and finished 21st.
Keselowski, a 29-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., took the lead from Logano on lap 66 when he and Hornish passed their teammate.
Kyle Busch finished 24th after a first-lap crash.
“All three Penske cars were very, very fast and with Kyle getting torn up it was pretty apparent that all three of our cars had a shot to win the race if we just didn’t do something dumb,” Keselowski said. “So I tried to not do something dumb the whole race.”
Keselowski is not competing in the Nationwide Series full-time this season, so his starts have been sporadic. His four wins have come over the last 15 races: Richmond (April 26), Kentucky (June 28), Iowa (Aug. 3) and the Glen.
Brian Vickers finished third, Regan Smith fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth. Hornish moved past Smith into second place in the points standings and now trails series points leader Austin Dillon by three.
Keselowski, who is very active on Twitter (428,000-plus followers), was checking his smartphone as his news conference began.
“I thought four wins in a row was a helluva stat until I just read Jim Utter’s stat that Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all won five in a row,” he said of a fact posted by the Charlotte Observer reporter.
“I guess I’ve got more work to do,” he said with a laugh. “Bristol is my next race, so we definitely have something to aspire for.”
The Food City 200 in Tennessee will be held Aug. 23.