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Keselowski grabs late lead for second victory

August 01, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Stenhouse dominates throughout race, but spate of late cautions is his undoing

Calm, droning racing wasn't getting it done for Brad Keselowski in Saturday night's Kroger 200 Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway. The defending series champion needed a bit of mayhem, and when he got that late in the race, it resulted in his second victory of the season.

Keselowski, a non-factor through the middle portion of an atypically unremarkable race at the .686-mile track, jumped ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on a green-white-checkered restart and cruised to a .987-second victory. The race went four laps beyond its scheduled 200.

Kroger 200

2.James BuescherChevrolet
3.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ford
4.Aric AlmirolaChevrolet
5.Carl EdwardsFord

"It's a very special win being from Michigan," Keselowski said. "I've been coming to this race track for years. I've been to Victory Lane as a team guy and a mechanic but never a driver. It's so special to win here and win here in a Dodge."

The battle for second place was so close that NASCAR officials had to review video. Several minutes after the race ended, second place was taken from Stenhouse and given to James Buescher, who had finished second in Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race at the track.

It took several more minutes before officials finally announced Stenhouse had moved into first place in the standings -- three points ahead of Reed Sorenson, who started the night as the leader and finished ninth Saturday.

But all of that was just the end of a chaotic final 25 laps. After a mild first 175 laps, in which only two yellow flags waved and in which Stenhouse led all but four laps, 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," said Wallace, Annett's Rusty Wallace Racing teammate.

"It was horrible," Annett said.

A red flag ensued.

Six laps after the race restarted on Lap 184, Trevor Bayne, who was running second, blew an engine and oiled down the track to bring out another caution. Just as the race was about to go green with seven laps to go, Justin Allgaier's car caught fire. 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 Lap 199 pushed the race into overtime. Keselowski pulled away for the victory and some head scratching.

"I'm not sure what happened at the end of that race," he 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 restarting in second position on the outside lane, and I knew that if I could get around the 6 car [of Stenhouse, who led 189 laps] that we had a shot at the win.


• Brad Keselowski, the reigning series champion, picked up his 14th Nationwide victory in his 159th start.
• Brad Keselowski joins Kyle Busch (six) and Carl Edwards (five) as the only multiple-race winners this season.
• Brad Keselowski became the 23rd driver to win at Lucas Oil Raceway in 30 races there.
• Brad Keselowski led just once for the final seven laps of the race.
• James Buescher (second) earned his best career finish; he finished in the top three in each of his races this weekend (third in ARCA, second in Truck).
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (third) led 189 of 204 laps and regained the points lead over Reed Sorenson.
• Aric Almirola (fourth) has finished in the top five in his past three races.
• Carl Edwards (fifth) overcame a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 180, after which he restarted 14th.
• Joe Nemechek (seventh) earned his second top-10 finish of 2011.
• Drew Herring (eighth) has finished in the top 10 in his past two races.

"I had a great short-run car that could give Ricky a run for his money. If the race was two of three laps longer, I'm sure Ricky would have drove around us."