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 tomorrow’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.”
Next up is Sunday’s CARFAX 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The race is scheduled for 2 p.m. Grandstand gates open at 8 a.m.; parking lots open at 6 a.m.
Great seats are available by calling 800-354-101 or logging onto www.MISpeedway.com.
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