As it turned out Saturday, the battle for the cash was more competitive than the battle for the trophy.
Brad Keselowski led 152 of 200 laps to easily win the Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and earn his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season and 29th of his career.
“This is really satisfying. This team has deserved to win a few races and things just haven’t quite gone their way, and it is nice to put it together here at Loudon with a strong car and great team,” Keselowski said.
“Loudon is one of my favorite places to go race. That is why I am running the Nationwide race here. I really enjoy being out here.”
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Lapped traffic was Keselowski’s biggest obstacle in the closing laps, but he had little problem holding off Kyle Busch for the victory.
“Lap traffic is always difficult here at Loudon, but I give credit to the field,” Keselowski said. “They helped me out and gave me a few breaks. That is part of the fun.”
Matt Kenseth took third, Kyle Larson was fourth, and Chris Buescher grabbed fifth for the second top-five finish of his career.
Series points leader Regan Smith finished 10th and earned the first of four $100,000 bonuses up for grabs this summer from the series sponsor.
In the race’s final laps, Smith held off rookie Ryan Reed, who finished 11th, for the bonus. Ryan Sieg and Jeremy Clements were also eligible.
“From start to finish, we struggled in traffic more than we need to,” Smith said.
Said Reed: “I gave Regan too much room through (Turns) 1 and 2 on that last restart, and he got me really loose up top. I hate that we didn’t give him more of a battle there but like I say I am proud of my guys and how far we have come this year.”
Smith, Buescher, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott will be eligible for the bonus next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.