Brad Keselowski drove the No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the win Saturday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. With, he helped the No. 22 team clinch the 2015 Xfinity Series owners’ championship with two races remaining at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s the third–consecutive owners’ title for the No. 22 team and the fourth, overall.
“For today, I am really proud of the effort, not just today, but all season long to get my team owner Roger Penske his fourth Xfinity Series owners’ championship,” Keselowski said. “That is a big step. I was thinking about it when I came to Team Penske in 2010, we didn’t have any, and now we have four Xfinity championships in five years. That is a huge accomplishment and something to be proud of.”
Saturday’s Xfinity Series race was dominated by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars. Cup regulars swept the top-three of the finishing order, with Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon finishing second and third. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular and championship points leader in that series, Erik Jones, finished fourth. The highest-finishing Xfinity Series championship-eligible driver was Ty Dillon, who finished fifth.
“We played it conservative for the first portion of the race, because we just didn’t know how our tires would hold up,” Ty Dillon said. “Once some rubber got laid down, Nick (Harrison, crew chief) gave me the green light to push it a little harder and pick up some more speed. We were super fast during those last couple of green-flag runs. I give a lot of credit to my team, crew chief and engineer for being able to call a great race and give us yet another top-five finish. We really are hoping to get to victory lane before the season is over.”
With weather forcing the cancellation of qualifying, Austin Dillon and Keselowski started on the front row based on practice speeds from Friday. Both led laps early before Kyle Busch and Harvick got to the front, with each of them also leading laps.
Busch and Harvick each had problems on pit road, though, during a caution that came around lap 80. Harvick made multiple stops when something about his car didn’t feel quite right. Busch, meanwhile, suffered a broken shift rod and also slapped with a pit road penalty for having too many crew members over the pit wall. Because of the mechanical issue, Busch ran the remainder of the race with only fourth gear, causing complications on trips down pit road.
Harvick eventually worked his way back toward the front while Keselowski and Kyle Larson each spent time in the race lead. Larson was plagued by a tire rub throughout the race, and the rub finally caught up with him while leading in the final 25 laps of the 200-lap race. When his tire blew, Larson spun and wound up wrecking out of the race.
Austin Dillon and Keselowski got off pit road first and second during the caution that resulted from Larson’s tire issue. With 11 laps remaining, Keselowski took the lead and drove away as Dillon and Harvick raced fore second. Harvick took the position in the final laps.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Xfinity Series regulars Daniel Suarez, Brian Scott, Chase Elliott, Regan Smith and Elliott Sadler. Series points leader Chris Buescheer finished just outside the top-10 in 11th, and heads into the final two races of the season with a 24-point cushion over second-place driver, Elliott.
“We were trying to get something that was consistent going with our AdvoCare Mustang,” Buescher said. “The guys did a good job, though, and worked really hard to put a good piece on the race track. It wasn’t a bad day, but not the day we were hoping for. All in all, we just couldn’t get that one thing that was going to really turn our day around.”