Keselowski Spoils Stenhouse’s Big Night
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Clermont, Ind. – Brad Keselowski jumped ahead of Rickey Stenhouse Jr. on a green/white/checkered restart and went on to win the Kroger 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday night.
It was the second victory of the season for Keselowski, who won the series championship last season. It was his 14th career victory in the series.
James Buescher, who finished second in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race, was awarded second place after NASCAR officials reviewed tapes of the finish as Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse it the finish line at about the same time.
Stenhouse was awarded third place after leading 189 of the race’s 200-lap race.
Fourth was Aric Almirola and Carl Edwards, Stenhouse’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate, was fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jason Leffler, Joe Nemechek, Drew Herring, Reed Sorenson and Michael McDowell.
The race was fairly calm for the first 170 laps. It was the Stenhouse Show as he jumped to big leads and lead all but four of those laps.
But a wild crash occurred on lap 177.
Michael Annett and Tim Andrews tangled and hit the wall in Turn 3. After their cars had spun to a stop, the car of Steve Wallace came in sideways at speed and slammed both stalled cars.
“Tried to accelerate away from those guys and got sideways,” Wallace, Annett’s Rusty Wallace Racing teammate, said.
“It was horrible,” Annett said.
A long red flag ensued.
Seven laps after it restarted on lap 183, Trevor Bayne, who was running second, blew an engine and oiled down the track to bring out another caution. Just as the the race was about to go green with seven laps to go, Justin Allgaier’s car caught fire and he pulled off the track and the restart was aborted.
Suddenly Keselowski was in the front row set to restart next to leader Stenhouse.
He got there, according to Nationwide Series director Joe Balash, because Allgaier pulled out of line and the whole line behind him moved forward and Keselowski was at the head of the line.
Keselowski took the lead on the restart. But another quick caution on 196 set up a green/white/checkered restart. Keselowski pulled away for the victory and some head scratching.
“I’m not sure what happened at the end of that race,” Keselowski said. “I’m going to have to go back and watch it on TV to fully understand what happened. The 16 car blew up. The 31 caught on fire. We ended up restarted in second position on the outside lane and I knew that if I could get around the 6 car that we had a shot at the win. I had a great short-run car that could give Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) a run for his money. If the race was two of three laps longer, I’m sure Ricky would have drove around us. Our Discount Tire Dodge Challenger was great on the short run. It’s great to get back to victory lane again.”No Comment