NASCAR: Keselowski wins Kroger 200
CLERMONT, Ind. ó Brad Keselowski stayed close to the leaders all night and was strong in the two green-white-checkered laps at the end to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 on Saturday night.
Keselowski led only seven of the 204 laps and took his first lead in lap 198. He had earned the pole in his previous two races but hadn’t won.
It was a good overall day for Keselowski, who earlier in the day qualified fifth for Sunday’s Brickyard 400.
James Buescher finished second after finishing second in the trucks race on Friday night.
Polesitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led 189 laps before finishing third. He led by nearly four seconds in lap 175 before the field tightened because of a caution following an accident.
Stenhouse still moved ahead of Reed Sorenson into the points lead. Sorenson finished ninth.
Action sports star Travis Pastrana was supposed to race on Saturday, but he fell at the X Games on Thursday night and broke his right foot and ankle.
NASCAR has announced that the race will move to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next year after 30 years at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The race was clean until the end. The first caution didn’t come out until lap 48.
Elliott Sadler, who started last because of a crash during qualifying, moved up into the top 10 by mid-race. Through the first 100 laps, only Stenhouse and Carl Edwards had led laps, and the only caution flag had been for debris.
Michael Annett moved into second place after a good pit stop during the next caution and trailed only Stenhouse when the green flag came out for lap 120, but Trevor Bayne quickly passed Annett.
Stenhouse was pulling away from the field when a crash in lap 175 brought out a red flag. Annett and Tim Andrews made contact, then Steve Wallace spun and tagged both of their stationary cars on the way by. Wallace hit Annett, spun and went airborne, then ran into Andrews.
Carl Edwards was penalized for speeding in the pits while trying to edge past Stenhouse and Bayne and was sent to the back of the pack, and was in the 15th position when racing resumed. Stenhouse was in front heading into lap 184.
Bayne had mechanical problems in lap 188 while in second place, ending his quest for his first Nationwide victory.
“It blew up,” Bayne said shortly afterward.
Justin Allgaier’s car caught on fire while he was in second place during a late caution, but he was able to get out of the car safely.
Sadler crashed out in lap 198 while battling Keselowski and Stenhouse for the lead, bringing out another caution and setting up the shootout to the finish. Sadler’s crash allowed Keselowski to move up to the front row with Stenhouse, and Keselowski took advantage of his short-run speed to win.
DALE & DANICA
Dale Earnhardt Jr. would love the opportunity to give Danica Patrick a full-time job in NASCAR.
Patrick could leave IndyCar at the end of this season to focus only on NASCAR. She’s so far driven 19 Nationwide Series races for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports team.
“I would like for her to run full-time and I’m sure she is considering that, and I think she would enjoy it,” Earnhardt said.
But he said he’s unsure of what Patrick will do, even though he believes she’s happy at JRM. Patrick has developed a decent rapport with crew chief Tony Eury Jr., and flirted with victory earlier this month at Daytona, where she led 13 laps before the last-lap chaos dropped her to a 10th-place finish.
“I feel confident that she’s content where she is and happy with what we’re doing. I think things are looking positive for us to put something together,” he said. “I think she’s doing great. She’s way ahead of the curve. We’ve had the opportunity to put several drivers in that car and her performance is right on par with all those drivers.
“We started out struggling and she had a steep, steep climb to go and she’s really come a long way. I’m excited about what the potential is with her going forward.”
Patrick has six more scheduled NASCAR starts this season.
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