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What do Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski have in common with the likes of Kenzie Ruston, Brandon McReynolds and Ryan Gifford?

They’ve all been members of the NASCAR Next program that helps promote young drivers in NASCAR’s national and touring series. Larson, Elliott and Kwasniewski used it as a springboard to bigger and better endeavors in stock cars, while the likes of Ruston, McReynolds and Gifford are part of a talented 2014 NASCAR Next class that hopes to do the same.

The 2014 class gathered Wednesday, July 16, at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C., for a day of fellowship, meeting and talking with the media – and racing go-karts against each other and the media in a friendly, yet competitive environment.

This year’s Next class includes not only Ruston, McReynolds and Gifford, but also rising stars such as recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner Erik Jones, Cole Custer, Ruben Garcia Jr., Gray Gaulding, Austin Hill, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, Ryan Preece and Ben Rhodes, who has won five K&N Pro Series East races this season overall, including four in a row.

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LOUDON, N.H. - For Brad Keselowski, it’s beginning to look an awful lot like 2012 when everything went right on the way to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

Keselowski led 138 of the last 232 laps to win Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 for his third Sprint Cup victory of the season. He held off Kyle Busch on the final restart and pulled away to win by three-quarters of a second in a greenwhite- checker finish.

“I’m not thinking of anything else right now (other) than how thankful I am to have a team and a car that is clicking well,” said Keselowski from Victory Lane. “It’s every driver’s dream.

“I think, in a lot of ways, we’re stronger than (2012). I don’t think we’ve had this much speed before. I feel like I’m in a really strong rhythm right now. I think some of last year’s struggles put me in a spot to work harder and become a better race car driver. I think we’re combining all those things and we’re seeing the fruits of that labor – with more to come.”

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The rain and the wrecks kept on coming at Daytona International Speedway in Sunday’s 56th running of the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola.

When the carnage from two major contender-claiming incidents was over, it was Aric Almirola who not only survived but claimed his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and took the giant step of punching his ticket into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Running the iconic No. 43 with the U.S. Air Force on the hood for July 4 weekend, Almirola’s win came on the 30th anniversary of team owner Richard Petty’s 200th Cup victory.

“I’m more concerned with getting my first win than what happened 30 years ago,” admitted Almirola during the race’s third red-flag delay for a thunderstorm that eventually halted the race with 48 scheduled laps remaining.

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Sometimes the fastest car doesn’t always win. Tonight, at Kentucky Speedway, it did.

Battling back from varying pit stop strategies, Brad Keselowski climbed six positions over the final 47 laps to pick up his second win of the season in dominating fashion in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts. By winning, Keselowski guarantees himself a berth into the Chase and also becomes the first two-time winner at the 1.5-mile speedway in three years.

“Our car was awesome,” said Keselowski, who earned his 12th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. “The team did a great job and I’m just really thankful to have a car this good. I don’t know how else to put it. The Miller Lite Ford Fusion was hauling and I just can’t wait to get deeper in the season and the post-season. I think this is where we need to be to have a shot at another championship, so I’m just real proud of everyone right now.”

Pole sitter Keselowski led the opening 27 Laps until Denny Hamlin wrecked in Turn 4. The first yellow flag of the night would also serve as the scheduled competition caution.

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published: 10/18/2013
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