For Scott, a familiar feeling leaving Richmond
September 06, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
“Yep. Kicked me in the nuts again, metaphorically,” Scott said after coming up just one position shy of his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250. “It’s unfortunate.”
In April, Scott finished 20th at the 0.75-mile short track, but was the center of attention after his skirmish with Nelson Piquet Jr. evolved into a pit-road scuffle that saw him on the receiving end of a kick below the belt. Friday, the post-race feeling was apparently similar.
Scott -- who had led only 38 laps in the previous 133 starts in his Nationwide career -- won the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon qualifying and set a record by leading the first 239 of 250 laps, only to have a late caution period erase what was shaping up to be a wire-to-wire breakthrough victory. But the driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Chevrolet fell victim to a pass on a late-race restart from eventual race winner Brad Keselowski.
Scott and team owner Childress called NASCAR’s decision to let the winning pass stand into dispute, claiming that Keselowski’s No. 22 Penske Racing Ford may have beaten Scott’s car to the start/finish line. But that restart, and the next one where the RCR crew claimed Keselowski possibly jumped, stood for the final result.
At the end, a disappointed Scott said he had to learn from the experience.
“Obviously, it was really neat to get the pole for the 1,000th Nationwide race and it would’ve been really cool to lead every lap,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, though, there’s just some things I disagree with at the end from procedure calls that I guess I need to figure out. ... I’ll learn from it, and I promise I won’t lose another one like that again.”
Series director Wayne Auton, stationed just outside the Nationwide Series hauler, said Scott asked to speak to him post-race concerning the final two restarts in the last 11 laps. Auton said the pair had a “very good conversation” and shook hands as they parted ways.
“I think if you look at the first one that Brian Scott talked to us about, we’ve told competitors for a long time, we’re not going to micromanage the restarts at any time when it comes to the line,” Auton said. “The cars are side by side and they came across the line and we’re not going to micromanage that part of it.
“The last restart, you know we make hundreds of judgment calls all the time during a race. We look at every area that we can and the call that we made on the last one, it was another one of those thousand judgment calls that we make a day and we felt like it was the right call at the time.”
Keselowski, the beneficiary of the late restart, likened NASCAR’s position to a football referee trying to make a definitive call on a nebulous pass interference play. Even though he emerged with the trophy, he still sympathized with Scott’s situation.
“It was probably his best race ever and he’s got a lot to be proud of, that’s for sure,” said Keselowski, who was 1.946 seconds ahead of Scott at the checkered flag. “This is one of those nights where it didn’t work out for him. The only thing I can really tell him with the experience that I have is that sometimes in racing, you do everything right and you still don’t win. This sport’s very fickle like that. There are three things I talk about all the time -- speed, execution and luck. You can only control two of them.”
After emerging from his still-warm car, it was far too soon for Scott to take too much solace in matching his career-best finish. Still, he was able to keep composure and reflect on the positives at a track that still seems to have his number.
“I’ve raced a lot of things for a lot of years and about 1 percent of the time do you get a car that dominate,” Scott said. “Just proud of everybody from being able to achieve that, giving us a shot to win and even go out there and lead every lap. ...
“I try not to be negative. Obviously we had a great run and good points day, a dominant car. I just need to get some clarification. You know, they always sting any time you lose one, whether you lead one lap or all of them.”