Brad Keselowski made history Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he took the checkered flag at the inaugural Indy 250 NASCAR Nationwide race.
Keselowski and 2006 Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. finished 1-2, giving owner Roger Penske his first win at Indy in a stock car.
Penske has won the Indy 500 15 times. This win marked Penske’s 100th win in NASCAR competition. “I’ve been watching races here for a long time. Everyone knows how special it is. I’m glad to do it for Roger,” said Keselowski. “My guys delivered an awesome pit stop for me at the end.”
Keselowski’s win was his 14th for Penske Racing and 20th overall in 183 starts. He has won three of his last six starts. Hornish had his best Nationwide finish of the season.
The race was not without controversy. Keselowski took the lead for the final time when on a lap 82 restart, NASCAR officials said that the second-place Elliott Sadler jumped the restart. Sadler countered saying that Keselowski spun his tires on the restart and also Austin Dillon, who was behind Sadler, pushed him ahead.
Sadler remained on the track, while asking NASCAR to review the call. When NASCAR told the team they were going to stop scoring Sadler, he came into the pits to serve a drive-thru penalty. Sadler, who had a slight lead in the championship points, ended up finishing in the 15th position, but still maintained the points lead. Sadler held nothing back in his radio communication. “It is so wrong to penalize me for a mistake they made. They might just have cost me the championship,” was overheard.
Hornish narrowly escaped disaster when, on a late-race restart, Kyle Busch — who was in fourth place — made a quick move to get by Hornish. He hit the inside of Hornish, sending his own car spinning to the inside, but managed to save it from the wall. Busch, who was counting not stopping in the final laps, had to go to the pits twice and ended up in 34th position.
Austin Dillon’s younger brother Ty Dillon passed his older brother with just a few laps remaining to finish third, and the pole-sitter for Sunday’s race, Denny Hamlin, came home fourth.
“It was a solid day, but we were just too loose all day. Just couldn't do anything, especially on restarts, and that's when you need to be fast. Once you solidify your spot after about three or four laps, then you just cruise there the rest of the race,” said Hamlin.
Austin Dillon finished fifth and Michael Annett sixth. Annett gained an extra $100,000 as he won the Indianapolis Dash4Cash bonus given by Nationwide Insurance.
“It is really hard to put together a whole lap, and it took me till about Lap 20 to 30 to really start doing that. I put a lot of notes in the book for late in the race, and we used it and put ourselves in a position to get this check,” Annett said. Sadler had also been in the running for that bonus before his penalty.
Danica Patrick’s Nationwide debut at Indianapolis left her with a torn-up race car. Patrick qualified 20th, but was challenging Reed Sorenson for the 14th position when she hit Sorenson from behind, sending both cars into the wall in Turn 1.
“It’s unfortunate.” she said, “This is a track I would have loved to done well at. I guess I might have tapped him. I didn’t mean to take him out.”
Pole sitter Kasey Kahne finished 25th.