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Closer? Brad Keselowski rallies to win Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway

Brad Keselowski drives the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge around the track in a victory lap after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Brad Keselowski drives the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge around the track in a victory lap after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway.

By Jim Pedley
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

CLERMONT, Ind. - Calm, droning racing wasn't getting it done for Brad Keselowski in Saturday night's Kroger 200 NASCAR 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. 

"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.

"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."