Brad Keselowski finally earns 1st Daytona victory

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Brad Keselowski had his confidence shaken at Daytona International Speedway more than once.

 

He was a good plate racer, but never could find his way to victory lane at NASCAR's most famous track.

That changed Saturday night with a dominating performance that gave Team Penske its 100th career Sprint Cup Series victory — a win that Roger Penske celebrated in victory lane by participating in the traditional champagne spray.

More important, it gave Keselowski his long-awaited first win at Daytona.

 

Keselowski led a race-high 115 laps then held off Kyle Busch on a two-lap shootout that sent the race into overtime for one additional lap. It gave him his fifth career Cup win in a restrictor-plate race, but all the others had come at Talladega. He won on the Alabama track most recently in May.

 

"I don't care if it's not the 500. It's Daytona. This is huge," he said. "I love this place."

 

He loved it even when he came up frustratingly short, or not even close at all.

Keselowski said his futility at Daytona was "a kick in the you-know-what," but he and his No. 2 Ford crew kept chipping away at it even after he had a disappointing run in the season-opening Daytona 500.

 

"I got down on myself here," he said. "We came down here for the 500 and quite honestly we ran like dog crap, but my team worked on it. I didn't give up on them. I believe in my team and my team believes in me and we went to work and we put together a better car, and it really showed with a great effort from the whole team. I'm really proud of everybody."

 

Penske said he was "proud to be an American" after winning on Fourth of July weekend.

"To win 100 races with the competition we have in this sport is amazing," said Penske. "Sixteen years ago we won our 100th race on the IndyCar side, it took us some time to catch up over here. Pretty important night for us."

The race was marred by a 22-car accident that collected more than half the field and thinned the competition for Keselowski. It really only left Kyle Busch as a legitimate contender, but a restart for a two-lap shootout that sent it into overtime forced Keselowski to earn the win.

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