In a drama-filled race, Brad Keselowski boldly passed Kyle Larson on the last lap to win Saturday’s Pocono 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Keselowski dove his No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang under Larson on the backside of the track to win his first XFINITY race of the season and the 35th of his career in 245 starts.
“Never give up man, you know?” said Keselowski, who won all three stages of the race, yet had to make the winning pass at the very end. “… I just pushed as hard as I could. It looked like Kyle’s car was struggling just a little bit.”
And Keselowski was there to pounce.
“On the last lap, I got right to his bumper and got him loose,” said Keselowski. “He was trying to do the side-draft thing down the backstretch, all the way down the apron That had to look really cool. I can’t wait to see the replay on FOX. Hell of a race and I’m really happy for the No. 22 team.”
Justin Allgaier managed to pass Larson on the last lap as well to take second place in his JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez completed the top five.
“We tried to make it interesting but we just didn’t have the speed to pass the 22 (Keselowski),” said Allgaier, who took over the series points lead from teammate Elliott Sadler. “But all in all, a good day.”
“The 22 was by far a lot better than everybody else,” said Larson, last weekend’s winner at Dover. “… I just got too tight in Turn 1 and Brad got a run on me.”
The race featured a television first: The eight on-air broadcasters covering the race for FOX were all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Rookie Kyle Benjamin, 19, who was making is first XFINITY Series start, qualified on the pole in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Benjamin was impressive early, leading the first 21 laps until getting passed by Keselowski in the Team Penske Ford.
Keselowski won the first 25-lap stage, but Cole Custer took the lead by short-pitting before the rest of the field stopped at the end of Stage 1.
When the green flag fell to start Stage 2, Custer led Benjamin and Keselowski.
On Lap 39, Keselowski went low under Custer to reclaim the lead and drive to victory in Stage 2 as well.
Stage 3 began on Lap 56, and when it did, Benjamin passed Keselowski to reclaim the lead. But the lead was short-lived, as the Penske Ford was back out front by Lap 62.
With 22 laps to go, Brandon Jones suffered a left-rear tire failure, which sent most of the lead-lap cars onto pit road for what was presumed to be the last time.
The field lined up to restart with 16 laps to go, with Custer ahead of Keselowski. Elliott Sadler shoved Keselowski out of the way and took the lead for just a second before himself getting passed by Larson for the lead.
In the closing laps, a tremendous battle ensued among Larson, Allgaier and Keselowski for the win.
With four laps to go, Keselowski passed Allgaier for second place and took off after Larson. But on the final lap, Keselowski made the winning move to power to the victory.