FORT WORTH, Texas (November 2, 2013) - Brad Keselowski, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion moonlighting in the Nationwide Series, won for the sixth time in his last eight NNS starts with a victory Saturday in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski (No. 22 Discount Tire Ford) led six times for a race-high 106 laps en route to a xx-second victory over runner-up Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) for his sixth win in just 14 starts this season in the Penske Racing entry.
It was Keselowski's 26th career Nationwide Series win, but first at Texas Motor Speedway. His previous best finish at Texas was second on two occasions, both of which came in the spring NNS race (2011, '13).
"I really wanted a cowboy hat," said Keselowski, referring to the Texas gift given to the race winner in Victory Lane. "We have been really close (at Texas) but never finished it off, but today we had the car to do it and the guys did a great job executing, We had a good battle with Denny Hamlin and finished out front."
Keselowski had to fend off the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Hamlin, who was subbing for Brian Vickers, and Matt Kenseth (No. 18 GameStop/Battlefield 4 Toyota) throughout the race to secure the victory. Hamlin and Kenseth combined to lead seven times for 87 laps, with Hamlin leading the way with 45, and were in contention and running up front throughout the race. Kenseth held the lead as late as Lap 155 of the 200-lap, 300-mile event while Hamlin was leading as late as 15 laps remaining.
The JGR duo had one last opportunity for a possible victory when the fourth and final caution came out on Lap 179 for a spin by Travis Pastrana (No. 60 KMC Wheels Ford) exiting Turn 2 after slight contact with Eric McClure (No. Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Toyota).
Hamlin took the restart as the leader with Keselowski and Kenseth, respectively, in tow with 18 laps to go. Hamlin and Keselowski swapped the lead over the next few laps before Keselowski regained the lead on Lap 186 and took control as he led the final 15 with no late charges by Hamlin or Kenseth, who faded to fourth.
In the Nationwide Series championship battle, Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Wurth Ford) finished third to cut his deficit from eight to six points on the leader Austin Dillon (No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet), who finished fifth. Hornish Jr. battled back from a pit lane pass-through penalty for a commitment line violation early in the race that dropped him from the top five to 17th and a lap down.