Keselowski gets past Busch for victory

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway Friday. — AFP
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway Friday. — AFP

RICHMOND — Brad Keselowski ran down Kyle Busch with 16 laps to go and drove away to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway.

Keselowski’s pass came in heavy lapped traffic and marked the third time he’d used a superior car to catch Busch on a long run. Busch had a better short-run machine and had to be wishing for a late caution to give him one last chance for his 92nd career victory in the series.

The final green-flag run lasted 89 laps, giving Keselowski his 36th career series victory and fourth in 17 starts at Richmond.

“He’s a great racer and when you can race with him you know you’re having a good day, especially in this series,” Keselowski said.

Busch led five times for 182 laps, and Keselowski led four times, but for just 34 laps.

“Right at the end I was able to pounce, and that’s a testament to the team,” Keselowski said.

Elliott Sadler, an Emporia, Virginia, native who is winless this season, and now winless in 29 career starts on the 0.75-mile oval where he grew up coming to races as a kid, nevertheless clinched his second consecutive regular season championship with a fifth-place finish. There is one race left in the regular season — next weekend in Chicago — before the top 12 drivers contest the first-ever playoff in the series.

“It feels very good to do it here at Richmond of all places with my friends and family here,” Sadler said.

His team has been preparing for weeks for the playoffs, he said, and he feels good heading into the homestretch.

“It’s all about one race for me. It’s all about Homestead,” Sadler, speaking of the championship-deciding final race in Florida.

It was the final series race that Cup veterans are allowed to participate in this season.

Ty Dillon won the first stage, and Keselowski passed Busch on the inside on the 150th lap to win the second stage.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., the race winner in each of his last three Xfinity starts at Richmond, finished ninth.

Kenseth wins pole

Matt Kenseth ran a fast lap at 122.421 mph Friday and won the pole at Richmond Raceway.

The pole for the race Saturday night is the 20th of Kenseth’s career and comes in the last race to make the 16-driver NASCAR playoffs that begin next week in Chicago. Kenseth is in a precarious spot in the standings. He will start the race 15th in playoff points, but without the victory that would guarantee him a playoff spot.

It also comes with his future uncertain. Joe Gibbs Racing decided not to renew his contract for next season, and Kenseth has not signed with any other team. He declined after qualifying, accompanied by his three young daughters, to discuss his plans or intentions.

Kenseth will start the race two points behind Chase Elliott and one point ahead of Jamie McMurray for the final three spots and, with 13 drivers winning races this season, that gives them the next three spots based on the point standings.

Denny Hamlin will start on the outside of the front row after a top speed of 122.277 mph, with Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson in the second row. Martin Truex Jr., who clinched the regular-season title last weekend at Darlington, and Kevin Harvick are in the third row, followed by Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott and Erik Jones.