Cup Drivers Are Back in Xfinity, and Winning too
Brad Keselowski took home the victory in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The race was the first to allow Cup Series drivers to compete since Texas back in April. Cup drivers have won 6 of the first 11 Xfinity races this season.
Keselowski lead the field to the green as the race got underway. Fellow Cup driver Kyle Busch wasted no time going for the lead as he actually beat Keselowski by a nose to lead lap one. The 22 would quickly get back by, but Busch’s 18 would remain in close quarters. Busch would finally get by on lap 28 of the first 45 lap stage which he would go on to win.
Stage 2 would be all Busch as he led it from from flag to flag.
Stage 3 is where things got interesting. Keselowski, and a few other, pitted under caution towards the end of stage 2 which allowed the 22 to stay out when the rest of the field came in following the stage. The 22 didn’t quite have as stout of car as compared to the beginning of the race though. This allowed outside pole-sitter Cole Custer to take the lead with 93 laps to go.
Rain clouds loomed around the track all afternoon and finally with around 75 to go the skies opened up enough to warrant a caution. On the ensuing restart Busch would make it back to the front. With 54 laps to go Josh Williams, who was relief driving for Alex Labbe who feel ill to the heat, spun out bringing out another yellow. This caution created an interesting strategy split among the front runners as all teams only had one set of tires remaining in the pits.
Busch, Custer and several other leaders stayed out while Keselowski lead many others down the pitlane.
Just four short laps after going green again Tyler Reddick spun to draw yet another yellow flag. This forced everyone who hadn’t come in previously to put on their last set of tires. Daniel Hemric would cycle to the lead and Busch would restart 10th with 39 to go.
Busch, ever the aggressor, attempted to make his move as soon as the race restarted. He immediately darted to the inside of 8th place Dylan Lupton but quickly ran out of racetrack. The 18’s left side tires caught the tri-oval grass and that immediately sent him sideways. Chase Briscoe restarted innocently behind Busch and when the 18 got sideways the two made contact and slid into the inside wall.
Keselowski returned to the lead with 34 to go but the field wouldn’t be able to complete the entire restart lap under green before Lupton and Ty Majeski tangled to bring out the yellow. Under caution the skies opened once again. This time forcing the race into an hour long red flag.
Racing resumed with 24 to go with Keselowski still out front. Again, calamity wasn’t far away and Justin Allgaier and Jamie McMurray wadded up in turn 1 with 20 to go. Restarting with 14 to go it appeared Christopher Bell’s car quickly came to life as he slowly started reeling in the leader. Bell was mere car lengths away from Keselowski when a debris caution flew with a lap and a half remaining forcing overtime. Bell couldn’t hang with the 22 on the final restart and Keselowski scooted away. Reddick and Majeski would wreck hard on the final lap which ended the race under caution.