NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski, who is in he final year of his contract with Team Penske, has said several times over the last couple of weeks that he is not sure where he will end up in 2021.
But on Sunday, it became very apparent late in the race where he would end up in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 — in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Over the final 60 laps, Keselowski was able to shake well free of race-long nemesis Denny Hamlin and finish 1.647 seconds ahead of the Joe Gibbs Racing runner-up.
The victory was the second of Keselowski’s career at “The Magic Mile” in Loudon, N.H. It was his third of the season and came after finishing second at Kansas Speedway last time out. It was career win No. 33 for the Michigan native.
Keselowski led eight times for 184 of 301 laps. Hamlin led 10 times for 92 laps. They would up passing each other 13 times for the lead. No other driver led more than nine laps.
Martin Truex Jr. of JGR finished third — over six seconds behind the winner.
Joey Logano of the Penske team was fourth while Kevin Harvick was fifth.
Keselowski has said progress is being made in negotiations for a new contract with Penske but as of New Hampshire, nothing has been decided. Penske’s two other drivers — Logano and Ryan Blaney — recently signed new deals.
Kyle Busch’s year of woe continued in Loudon. On Lap 15, the two-time and defending Cup champion blew a tire and slammed the wall while running sixth. The damage knocked the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who has yet to win in 2020, out of the race.
“It’s still 2020,” an exasperated Busch said.
Sunday’s race was the first of the second half of the season. The playoffs begin after six more races.
Bubba Wallace of Richard Petty Motorsports and Cory Lajoie of Go Fas Racing were forced to start the race from the rear of the field after their cars were found to have improperly-placed ballast. In addition, both teams were issued a 10-point penalty in the driver and owner standings. Crew chiefs Jerry Baxter (Wallace) and Ryan Sparks were suspended for Sunday’s race.