It was a wild night in Charlotte where big wrecks and tire issues stole the show.
Brad Keselowski overcame a tire problem that led to him scraping the wall in the first half of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night and drove back to the front to claim the race win. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth finished second and third.
"That was probably the best car I've had all year," Kenseth said. "It was fun to be competitive."
In the wall, then victory lane?
Keselowski's tire issue sent him into the wall and to pit road just before a cycle of green flag pit stops began around lap 60 of the race, but before the cycle completed, the yellow flag came out, miring Keselowski and others who had already pitted back in the field for the restart.
Tonight, tires were much more of a premium than they've previously been here
"Was looking to be a long night; we hit the wall," Keselowski said. "We never gave up; we just kept pushing forward."
Tire issues plague the field
Tire issues and attrition were the themes for the night. Other drivers including Ty Dillon and Regan Smith also encountered tire issues that led to a tire shortage for some teams in the closing laps. During a yellow flag on lap 167, some teams put on scuffs and some new tires, while other drivers took only two.
"Tonight, tires were much more of a premium than they've previously been here," Kenseth said. "It was fun to put on four tires and be able to pass cars on two tires."
More than a quarter of the race field ended the evening in the garage, with two of the eight cautions coming for multi-car incidents. The yellow flag came out for the first time at the start of the race when 10 cars from mid-pack back piled up. Almost as many cars were involved in another multi-car wreck on lap 74.
Brendan Gaughan and Blaney each took two for track position to restart first and second. When the race returned to green, Blaney was able to remain up front, while Gaughan fell back. Keselowski moved up to second and then took the lead from Team Penske teammate Blaney on the final restart of the race with 19 laps to go. Busch then got by Blaney for second and Kenseth moved into third. Blaney finished fourth.
"I think two tires were the way to go," Blaney said. "Greg Erwin (crew chief) made a great call to take two."
Finishing fifth through 10th were Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, Elliott, Elliott Sadler and Brian Scott. Smith wound up 11th.
"I think I was better than Ryan," Larson said. "Gave up fourth but happy with a top-five."
Chase Elliott continues to lead the championship standings, 42 points ahead of teammate Regan Smith.