The Xfinity Series took the Darlington Speedway by storm today for the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200. It was a sunny warm day for the drivers and for some the heat was on. It looked as if Ross Chastain was going to take the win easily however one driver had his car in the right place at the right time.
Brad Keselowski in his No. 22 Penske Racing Ford took the lead after an exciting incident between race leader Chastain and Kevin Harvick took them both out of contention. Keselowski captured his first win at Darlington Speedway and the 39th of his career.
“Yeah, we had a really great Snap-On Ford Mustang and I could keep up with Ross (Chastain), but I couldn’t pass him. I tried to make the move to get by him and I just brushed the wall and him and Kevin got back by me and then they had their issue off of two and were just so strong that we pounced on it and took advantage of the opportunity. That’s a testament to this team. I drove five races this year and we’ve won three of them. That’s pretty darn good and I’m really proud of that,” Keselowski said.
Stage 1 had one incident on Lap 2 when Austin Cindric wrecked after contact with Ryan Truex. Cindric sustained heavy damage to his race car and was unable to continue in the race. Chastin, who started from the pole position, led every lap of the first stage.
During Stage 2 Harvick took the lead on the restart and led several laps of the stage. Fan favorite, Christopher Bell brought out the caution when he hit the wall with a cut tire and got a piece of Daniel Hemric’s car. The only other incident of the stage was for Brandon Jones who spun his car around. Chastain came out of the pits in the lead for the restart and won Stage 2 of the race.
The final stage of the race brought out excitement, tempers, and a few tears. With 33 laps to go in the race, Harvick saw his opening for the lead when he and Chastain came up on a lapped car. Harvick and Chastain went for the same space and Chastain ended up into the wall, then came down and spun Harvick. Harvick showed his displeasure with the incident by stopping in Chastain’s pit stall. Harvick in his post-incident interview referred to Chastain as an “inexperienced driver” putting the blame on Chastain for the incident. However, Chastain in his post-race interview saw the incident a little differently.
“I’m just trying to race and I’ll have to see the film, you know, and if I made a mistake it’s on me. Being the leader there I felt like I’m just trying to race, man, and we’ve been giving each other room all day.” With tears of frustration in his eyes, he added, “It’s unfortunate.”
Cole Custer stayed in the top of the field all day and came home second in his No.00 Stewart Haas Racing Ford.
“We just had a great Haas Automation Mustang. I can’t thank everybody in the shop enough,” he said, “Everybody at Ford Performance, they’ve given us great tools all year so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”
Tyler Reddick had a great run today in his No.9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet and crossed the finish line third. Denny Hamlin and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five. Justin Allgaier, Matt Tifft, Ty Dillon, and Michael Annett finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
Allgaier leads the Xfinity Series point standings with 888 points, Sadler is in second with 872 points, Custer is in third with 871 points, Bell is in fourth with 852 points and Hemric rounds out the top five with 844 points.
The Xfinity Series heads next to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 8.