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Hometown Victory! Keselowski Wins at Michigan
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 15, 2009) — It was a two-car race from the start between Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch until Rochester Hills, Mich., native Brad Keselowski decided to make it three with one lap remaining in the NASCAR Nationwide CARFAX 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
Keselowski, 25, led for only three laps, but the one that mattered was the last lap as he grabbed his third victory of the season in a wild, heated finish that led to some post-race verbal turbulence.
The green flag came out with six laps remaining following the fourth caution period of the race. Vickers took the lead with Busch close behind. The two had combined to lead a total of 110 laps in the 125-lap race.
With two laps remaining Vickers, Busch and Keselowski briefly ran three abreast. Vickers forced Busch to run below the white line on the bottom of the track, unaware Keselowski was winding up his No. 88 Chevrolet to make his outside-groove pass for the lead and his fifth victory in 92 Nationwide races.
Vickers, who led for a total of 78 laps, finished second followed by Busch, who was in front for a total of 32 laps.
“I saw them bobbling in turns three and four with one lap to go and I knew I had them,” said a beaming Keselowski. “I knew it. I knew I could get to the outside and get past the 32 (Vickers). I wasn’t sure about the 18 (Busch). I don’t know what happened to him.
“Oh my God, I won at home! I’m speechless. I can’t believe it. I’m usually terrible here and to win here is a major accomplishment. It’s so cool to win in front of my hometown fans. I don’t know what you guys saw but it was one heck of a show. I can’t believe I’m in Victory Lane at Michigan. I just can’t believe it. I’ve been coming here since I was four or five years old with my parents. I’m speechless. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. I can’t thank everyone enough who got me to where I am now.”
After the conclusion of the race, Busch pulled in front of a parked Vickers on an angle on pit road, hitting the right front panel of Vickers’ car in the process. Busch then climbed out of his car and walked over to Vickers’ car, leaned in and had a brief discussion.
Vickers climbed out of his car and the two stood toe-to-toe momentarily with Busch pushing up the visor on Vickers’ helmet before they separated.
“He (Vickers) hung on my right rear quarter panel all the way down the front stretch and gave the win to the No. 88 car (Keselowski),” Busch said. “He slowed us both down so much. He had no idea the 88 car was coming and the 88 just drove past both of us on the outside because Brian Vickers was trying to slow both of us down.
“Unfortunately, you race with idiots and I guess you’re going to have that some times. I’m sure I’m complaining, and I’m whining and I’m a crybaby but that’s uncalled for and it’s stupid. I would have run my own line instead of giving it to the third-place car.”
Vickers started from the pole after becoming the first driver at MIS to start from the pole for both weekend races, the Nationwide CARFAX 250 and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup CARFAX 400.
“I’m so sorry. I forgot it was the Kyle Busch show,” said Vickers in response to Busch’s statements. “I thought we were racing for a win. I thought it was my job to hold him off. Apparently not. He came over to the car after the race, knocked our right fender in, which was unnecessary, and then started crying like a little baby. I asked him to give me a minute to get out and we could talk about it like men and if he wanted to fight that was fine with me, but he ran off.
“It’s a shame that it went down like that. We were racing hard and I thought it was a good race. Congratulations to the 88, he snuck around both of us. I didn’t see him coming. I let my guys down. We should have won the race but last I checked it wasn’t the Kyle Busch show it was a Nationwide race and I was supposed to race him for the win.”
Busch widened his Nationwide Series points lead to 339 over second-place Carl Edwards when Edwards was involved in a crash, coming in contact with Trevor Bayne on just the fourth lap of the race. It eliminated Edwards from the competition.
“I saw the replay and at first I thought they (the two cars next to him) must have gotten together and split up,” Edwards explained. “It definitely looks like I didn’t give Trevor enough room. We all went into the corner and I assumed that the car that was on the inside was going to go to the bottom. I was thinking about the rest of the corner, and I drove down in there and pinched him down.
“I hope his car is not torn up a lot. It’s too bad for my guys. It’s very frustrating. Man, it’s early in the race and I probably should have been a little more cautious.”
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Point Standings click here
The Race: CARFAX 250
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 15
The Time: 4:30 p.m. AT
The Distance: 250 miles / 125 laps
TV: ESPN2 & TSN2, 4 p.m. AT
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio / MRN
2008 Race Winner: Carl Edwards
2008 Polesitter: Carl Edwards
Event Schedule (all times ET): Friday – Practice,1:45-3:30 p.m. and 5:15-6:15 p.m. (Approx.); Saturday – Qualifying, 10:35 a.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Standings: click here
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- Oh, Brother! Keselowskis Bring Different Strengths Home...
Usually, sharing isn’t something siblings do well. In the case of the Keselowski brothers – Brian and Brad – they don’t have much of a choice this weekend.
They’ll share the spotlight – and the track – as the natives of Rochester Hills come home to Michigan International Speedway.
Brad, younger by three years, is the more well-known of the two. The driver of the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, is having his best year overall in NASCAR national series competition, with two wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He’s also third in the NASCAR Nationwide standings.
Brian, 27, is steadily making his own name in the series, showing a versatility that has many taking notice.
Handling the K-Automotive operation, Brian will serve in multiple capacities this weekend. He’s overseeing the No. 92 and No. 96 Dodges (his uncle Ron and dad Bob, respectively, will handle the crew chief duties), and he’ll also serve as crew chief on the No. 26 Fischer Honda Dodge that he’s driven in 14 of his 16 races this year. The No. 26 will feature Michael McDowell behind the wheel – a partnership that is quickly becoming a successful one.
It was a tough decision for Keselowski, but McDowell, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, has driven the No. 26 over the last two races with Brian acting as crew chief. At Iowa Speedway, the duo brought home an eighth-place finish. Last week at Watkins Glen, McDowell was having a solid run until getting caught in a late-race incident pushed him back to 27th at the finish.
“Michael (McDowell) stepped up to the plate for me and has done a great job and I helped him out by keeping him in the driver points race,” Brian said. “I’m a driver and I want to drive, but as a team owner, manager and mechanic I need to make a business decision about my team. No driver – and I mean no driver – wants to sit back and watch his car on the track. But I’m not just a driver; I own my own business. So I have to look at the big picture and this is what I need to do to make it work right now.”
- Luck of the Irish (Hills) For Edwards?...Saturday’s race certainly doesn’t represent a “last stand” for Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save-A-Lot Ford). But the time to make the most of an advantage at a track like Michigan represents is starting to tick away.
Edwards is second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings, 212 points behind leader Kyle Busch (No. 18 NOS Toyota).
Not insurmountable. Last year after 22 races, Edwards was third in the standings, seven points behind second-place Brad Keselowski and 180 in back of first-place driver Clint Bowyer.
Edwards managed to make up all but 21 points of the difference before succumbing to Bowyer in the last race of the 2008 season.
If the 2007 series champion is going to make a similar run over the last third of this season, Michigan may be the place to make the magic happen.
He’s the defending winner of this race (from the pole) and went on to sweep the weekend’s events last year also by winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. He posted the best Driver Rating for a series race at Michigan last year at 146.6 and also has a 114.3 rating – fourth best among all drivers – in NASCAR Nationwide competition at MIS.
Busch has solid stats at the 2-mile track but hasn’t raced there in series competition since 2006. He won in 2004, his series track debut, and finished 14th three years ago. His Driver Rating at MIS is 81.8, which is his worst among all active NASCAR Nationwide Series tracks.
- Michigan Victory A Crown Jewel Among Manufacturers...A victory in the Motor City is big for series manufacturers.
It’s well-documented how special the wins at Michigan International Speedway have been for Jack Roush’s Livonia, Mich.-based operation. Roush has won four times at MIS, including last year with driver Carl Edwards.
Chevrolet owns the most wins at Michigan with 11, including the series’ inaugural win at the track by Todd Bodine in 1992.
Ford is second with its five wins while Dodge has one victory. Ryan Newman won for Roger Penske in a Ford in 2001 – his first NASCAR national series victory and the only Ford victory that doesn’t belong to Roush – and he also posted the lone win for Dodge to date in 2005. This weekend, he’ll be driving the No. 5 Fastenal Chevrolet that also must be considered a favorite.
Although 2009 manufacturer leader Toyota has earned six top-10 finishes over its first two years of series competition at MIS, it has yet to win there.
Saturday’s race should be wide open in terms of a favorite. Over the last three races, a different manufacturer has won: Ford at O’Reilly Raceway Park; Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway and Toyota last week at Watkins Glen.
- Yeley Returns To NNS At MIS...It’s been two years since J.J. Yeley (No. 81 MacDonald Motorsports Dodge) competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but he’ll be back this weekend at MIS.
In three previous starts there, he has a top five and two top 10s.
Yeley’s first three seasons in the series were spent in the No. 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing. He ran two full years for JGR (2005-06) and had his best season in 2007 when he finished seventh in the standings, had three poles, nine top fives and 22 top 10s.
He ran 30 races for James Finch in 2007; his last NASCAR Nationwide event was the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Five Former Series Champs At MIS...Five former series champions are entered at Michigan and two of those have also won races at the track.
Carl Edwards (2007), Kevin Harvick (No. 33 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) in 2001 and ‘06, Brian Vickers (No. 32 Dollar General Toyota) in 2003, Greg Biffle (No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford) in 2002 and Joe Nemechek (No. 87 NEMCO Chevrolet) in 1992 are the former champs. Edwards (2008) and Harvick (2003) are the former winners. Interestingly, Harvick’s win is his only victory in any series on a 2-mile track.
There has yet to be a repeat pole winner at Michigan and four former polesitters are entered — Edwards (2008), Biffle (2007), Jeff Burton (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet), who won from the pole in 1998 and Derrike Cope (No. 78 Dodge), who will attempt to make his 150th career start in the series.
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