By Lee Montgomery email@example.com
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Funny, wasn’t it, that the driver chasing Justin Allgaier in the closing laps of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway was none other than Brad Keselowski.
Yes, the same mean ‘ol Keselowski who many fans seem to love to hate these days. The same Keselowski who has angered Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and just about every driver in the Sprint Cup garage – or so it seems.
Allgaier had passed Keselowski right after a restart with 27 laps to go, but Keselowski wasn’t going to back down. He moved in on Allgaier in the latter stages, with Allgaier running the high line and Keselowski the inside.
Was Allgaier worried? Didn’t seem so.
"Brad and I got to race side-by-side the last 15 laps, and I could see that Discount Tire nose sticking in there every time," Allgaier said. "I knew that if we held our line and did what we needed to do, we’d come out with the win."
Of course, the two are teammates at Penske Racing. Whether Keselowski thought about putting the bumper to Allgaier or not, he likely had the large aura of team owner Roger Penske in his mind.
Would he have moved Allgaier if they weren’t teammates?
"Well, I don’t know because it was my teammate," Keselowski said. "On the restart there, he ran me up pretty high, but I really had no room to be angry with him because last year here I wrecked him pretty bad. I lifted and let him in and lost the lead there.
"I thought I had a shot at getting it back, but I just didn’t catch the right breaks, as far as boxing him out and lapped traffic."
And with that, Allgaier had his first career victory. And Penske didn’t have to chastise his drivers.
Allgaier said he was nervous the first time he met Penske, but at that moment in the race, the roles were reversed.
"I wanted to see them both work together for four or five laps so they could get away from the 18 (of Kyle Busch) because he’s so strong," Penske said. "I said to Brad on the radio before that last restart, ‘Just take care of yourself.’ Obviously, Justin was doing the same thing. It’s out of my hands.
"If he was nervous sitting down with the first time, I was nervous watching today. So I guess we’re even now."