Brad Keselowski outduels Kyle Busch in Nevada desert

Tim Parks/Harold Hinson Photography

By Jerry Jordan — LAS VEGAS – With just six laps to go in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski muscled past hometown-favorite Kyle Busch and went on to take the checkered flag, securing himself a spot in NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.

“He had a really good short run car but it fell off on the long run,” Keselowski said, after the race. “That is part of this new package, some are good on short run and some are good on long run and we had a really good long run car today.

“This is really, really great. It seemed like there were plenty of challenges, whether it was pit road or the weather or cautions. They threw everything they had at us today but this Miller Lite Ford team was too strong and we were able to fight them off and get to victory lane.”

His teammate, Joey Logano, was also able to pass Busch on the white-flag lap and gave Penske Racing a one-two finish on the first stop of the three-race West Coast swing, known as #NASCARgoesWest.

Logano had held off his teammate for several laps but Keselowski proved to be too string in the closing laps. The battle between them was proof, Keselowski said, that teammates don’t rollover and give up their positions.

“Brad was able to beat me in the bottom of three and four and maintaining that turn and being able to drive up underneath guys,” Logano said. “I am proud of what we did. Gosh, we finished second so many times, Daytona and qualifying. You are so close and want it so bad but I am so proud of the Pennzoil boys here with everything they did all week.

“We had a good car. We led a lot of laps. Brad was just really good on the long run. I tried to hold him off as long as I could but he showed how fast he was getting by me and Kyle and checking out. Congratulations to Team Penske. It is something to be very proud of for our team. We have a lot of second place finishes already this year. I know we are only three races in but I am getting antsy.”

By this time in 2015, Logano had already secured his spot in the Chase with a win at the season-opening Daytona 500.

A dejected Busch, conceded he didn’t have a strong-enough car to compete at the end of the race. However, he still gave himself and his team an A-plus for turning things around from earlier in the week.

““We have some work to do. There’s definitely guys that are better than us. I think as a company, we’re not bad. I think we’re fourth to eighth – out of all of us, that’s kind of where we run and we need to get a little better to where we’re the guys that can be up front and lead laps. Yeah, we led laps today, but Matt (Kenseth) being a leader got passed and me being a leader got passed under green flag, so we’re just not good enough.

“If I were to grade our weekend, for progress it’s an A-plus, but for being as bad as we were and ending up right there it would probably be a B or B-minus.”

Jimmie Johnson, Busch and Austin Dillon finished third through fifth, respectively.

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