By: Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
- Final restart gives Keselowski the win
- Buescher beats Stenhouse for 2nd
- Stenhouse leads 188 lops, finishes 3rd
Stenhouse Jr. dominates Indy IRP Nationwide race, but Keselowski pulls out the win
Brad Keselowski got his No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge by race leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on a restart with three laps to go in the Kroger 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis on Saturday night. He drove on to the race win.
“We just rubbed a little,” Keselowski said after the race. “I didn’t take him out by any means.”
Stenhouse led 188 laps after starting from the pole. He held on to finish third. James Buescher was second in the No. 30 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet.
“Ricky really deserved to win this race,” Keselowski said.
Stenhouse led the initial 49 laps of the race when the first caution came out for debris. Teammate Carl Edwards, in the No. 60 RFR Ford, beat him off pit road, but Stenhouse quickly got back by to reclaim the lead on the restart.
Stenhouse continued to dominate and built up a lead of nearly three-and-a-half seconds before another debris caution came out on lap 114 of the 200-lap race.
On the following restart, Roush Fenway Racing claimed three of the top-four positions, with Stenhouse up front, Edwards in third and Trevor Bayne, in the No. 16 Ford, fourth. Michael Annett started among the RFR brigade in the second spot after taking only two tires on his pit stop.
The two tire call didn’t pay off for Annett, as he lost several positions quickly, leaving Roush Fenway Racing to take over the top-three in the running order.
RFR continued to dominate the race by running first through third until a red flag halt in the race on lap 176 for a three car wreck involving the Rusty Wallace Racing Toyotas of Steve Wallace (66) and Michael Annett (62) and the No. 40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet of Tim Andrews.
Edwards was caught speeding on pit road trying to beat Stenhouse out during the caution right after the red flag. Austin Dillon opted to stay out on the race track in his No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet to restart in the lead. Stenhouse and Bayne restarted second and third, while Edwards was mired back in the pack.
Dillon dropped back through the field on old tires, and Stenhouse and Bayne assumed the top-two spots for RFR. A one-two finish for Roush Fenway went up in smoke, though, when Bayne’s engine expired with 12 laps to go.
Stenhouse continued on as RFR’s only representative at the front of the field, but he was unable to hold off or get by Keselowski on two late-race restarts.
We just rubbed a little, I didn’t take him out by any means.
“I’ve been working all year on restarts,” Stenhouse said, noting that Keselowski was still better at restarts than him.
Keselowski started the race alongside Stenhouse on the front row, but gradually fell back early in the event as he fought an ill-handling race car.
“We were tight early,” No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon said. “But we had a pretty good short run car.”
Most of the race was comprised of long runs, as there were only two cautions for debris in the first 176 laps. Cautions came more frequently, though, after the red flag that came out with 24 laps to go.
“I drove through the holes in the traffic,” Keselowski said on his journey back up to the front during the short runs late in the race..
Aric Almirola finished fourth in the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, and Edwards made his way back up to a fifth-place finish.