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article imageNASCAR: Keselowski wins; Harvick continues to roll

By John Duarte     Mar 23, 2015 in Sports
Fontana - Brad Keselowski may have stolen the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday afternoon in California, but it's Kevin Harvick that is stealing the spotlight and has NASCAR world buzzing with another top-two finish.
Harvick is on an amazing run. Going back to the final three races of 2014, the reigning series champion has finished in second or better in the last eight events. That equals him with David Pearson, who accomplished the feat in 1968. Only Richard Petty has done better. The King had nine straight Top 2s in 1964, finished second in 10 straight in 1967 and 1971 and was runner up 11 consecutive times in 1975.
Harvick's eyes must have lit up when Kurt Busch brushed the wall in the final corner of Sunday's race, opening the window for him to slip by and into second place. When the checkered flag flew overhead signalling the win for Keselowski, Harvick missed sweeping the three western races by .711 seconds. He won in Las Vegas in Phoenix after opening the season with two Top 2 finishes.
“We fought through a day of track position,” Harvick said. “Just really proud of everybody on my team.”
Keselowski only led one lap in the race, but it was the important one. He took advantage of having four new tires and moved into the lead of the Auto Club 400 as the Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, in California, entered it's final lap.
“We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, (and) somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver's dream,” Keselowski said. “This one, we're going to sit back and go 'Wow!' for a while.”
A caution period on Lap 185 brought contenders into pit lane. Crew chief Paul Wolfe elected to change all four tires on Keselowski's car.
“It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh,” Keselowski said about his chances before the caution period on Lap 185. “We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now, what do we do?”
Keselowski admitted it was a gamble and, as Wolfe gave the order to change all the tires, he was indecisive how it would all turn out.
“When he said that, I said, 'This can either go really good or really bad.' Didn't know which it was going to be,” said Keselowski.
His fortunes changed on Lap 200, the race's scheduled distance. NASCAR officials put the race under caution to clean up debris on the track and send the Auto Club 400 into overtime. Keselowski re-entered the track after the pit stop in 18th position as the race headed for a green-white-checker finish. Again Wolfe elected to change all four tires on Keselowski's car, while most other teams took on only two new tires.
Keselowski wound his way through the field quickly and had moved up to seventh when another yellow flag came out. Taking advantage of his fresh tires, Keselowski picked off positions one-by-one and was sitting second when another caution was called. On the re-start, a second attempt at a green-white-checker finish, Keselowski breezed by Busch and into the lead.
“At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught,” he said.
Busch, who was racing for the second time this season after a ban due to off-track matters, started from the pole position and was out in front of the field for a race-high 65 laps.
“It was a solid day,” he said after the race. “I don't know what we could have done different.”
Busch had been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Feb. 20, 2015, due to allegations of domestic violence. The suspension was lifted on March 11 and he finished fifth in the CampingWorld.com 500 in Phoenix last week.
Harvick extended the gap in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. He now leads Joey Logano by 28 points and Martin Truex Jr. by 33.
The NASCAR schedule returns to the east coast with the STP 500, at Martinsville Speedway, in Virginia, on March 29. 2015.
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