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Keselowski holds off pack

The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski raced to his third NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season, holding off a charging pack in overtime to take the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway Saturday night.

Keselowski took the lead from Alex Bowman with seven laps to go, building a big lead before a caution came out for Matt DiBenedetto. Keselowski roared away on the restart and held off Bowman and Erik Jones to add to his victories this season at Atlanta and Martinsville.

Keselowski’s win came one day after longtime Truck Series driver Mike Mittler died of cancer at the age of 67. Mittler helped to give Keselowski and many others a chance in racing.

Despite Keselowski’s win, it was Chase Elliott who dominated the second stage of the NASCAR Cup Series early on.

The young star of the Hendrick Motorsports stable was trying to follow up his win at Talladega by winning at the 1 1/2-mile track. In fact, Elliott has all four of Chevrolet’s wins over the past 26 races as the manufacturer struggles to catch up with Ford and Toyota.

Kevin Harvick had won the first stage, driving right to the front after every pit stop in a dominant performance over the first 80 laps.

Elliott was second with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch in the top five.

Elliott was among those whose car failed inspection twice, sending him to the back of the field to start the race. But he deftly worked his way to the front, and he was leading until Harvick breezed past him with seven laps left in the stage.

The green flag flew with a gray sky and cold temperatures that allowrf some big names to drive to the front.

Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano were among 11 drivers whose teams failed the prerace inspection. They were forced to line up behind cars that cleared on the first try.

The new rules package was expected to make passing difficult at Kansas, but the weather gave the drivers in the back a chance. Once they got to the front, though, they had to contend with defending race winner and pole sitter Harvick.

The car chiefs for Logano, Elliott and Larson were ejected after their cars failed inspection for a second time. All three made it through on the third try.

The trio was joined by eight others in failing the first round of inspection, including Aric Almirola, who qualified on the outside of the first row. In fact, five of the top eight qualifiers were sent to the back of the pack for failing inspection.

Pagenaud’s drought ends

INDIANAPOLIS — Simon Pagenaud ended his victory drought Saturday with a splashy move — and a rooster tail celebration.

He completed a daring three-turn pass on the second-to-last lap and sped away from Scott Dixon for his third IndyCar Grand Prix victory and first series win since the 2017 season finale at Sonoma. Pagenaud beat five-time series champion Scott Dixon by 2.0469 seconds.

“I always look for rain because it’s fun driving in the rain,” he said. “It’s a fun exercise. On a dry track, it’s very much repetitive. The wet is what I used to grow up on racing. It’s just a lot of fun in the rain.”

While other drivers struggled with tire wear on the wet road course, Pagenaud got even more aggressive — a trick he learned driving in his home country of France.

Pagenaud said he experimented with the braking, threw in some fakes and took advantage of other drivers’ second thoughts.

The result: He erased a six-plus second differential with Dixon in the final five laps and there was nothing the five-time series champion could do to stop the hard-charging Pagenaud.

“I knew, with about 10 laps to go, we’re going to get hosed here,” Dixon said after finishing second for the 43rd time in his IndyCar career. “The front tires, we just didn’t have — I don’t know if we changed the front wing, or whatever we did, but we just had no front grip.”

But as easy as Pagenaud made it look in the closing laps, that certainly wasn’t the case earlier in the race.

He qualified eighth, barely avoided a loose tire from teammate Josef Newgarden following a pit stop and ran out of push-to-pass time while getting by Jack Harvey for second.

Yet somehow, he still managed to give Team Penske its fifth consecutive win on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile, 14-turn course. Pagenaud and teammate Will Power are the only drivers to win this race, each three times.

“We kept it in the Penske family,” Pagenaud said.

It’s the first time this season an IndyCar team has won two races.

Dixon led for most of the second half of the 85-lap race but couldn’t hold off Pagenaud, who moved into fourth with 15 laps to go and then passed Matheus Leist with 11 to go before weaving his way past Jack Harvey, leaving only Dixon in front of him.

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