Brad Keselowski in victory lane after winning the Indiana 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Russ Lake Photo]
Keselowski Captures Inaugural Indiana 250
by Dan Margetta
Speedway, Ind. July 28-In typical Indy fashion, the Inaugural Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series event held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday afternoon was a mix of emotions, history, and controversy as Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. gave car owner Roger Penske a one-two finish while Richard Childress and his driver Elliott Sadler spent the aftermath inside the NASCAR hauler arguing a questionable penalty on a late restart.
"I've been watching races here since I was a kid in Michigan, "Keselowski stated from victory lane, "Everybody knows how special Indy is and any win that you can have here is special." "I'm just glad to do it for Roger (Penske)," Keselowski continued, "This is the 100th win for Roger Penske in NASCAR so that's really special for him and I'm glad to be able to be the guy that delivered."
The controversial penalty call was set up following a lap 82 restart when with Keselowski leading, NASCAR black flagged Sadler, who approached the green flag in second but beat Keselowski's car to the start-finish line and appeared to take the lead. The ruling was further questioned when a similar situation that occurred at the start of the race between Kyle Busch and pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was allowed to stand without any penalities. Sadler was forced to pit for a pass-through penalty on lap 88, handing the lead back to Keselowski, who paced the event the rest of the way en route to the victory.
"It happened really fast and I don't have a complete picture of what happened, "Keselowski explained afterwards, "But I can tell you my perception of it was, I got a push from Sam (Hornish) and it was a little more than I certainly wasn't going full throttle, but I was not in the zone when Elliott (Sadler) took off. It appeared that Elliott got a push from behind, as well, and maybe he just couldn't slow down. NASCAR saw something they didn't like and made a call that's their job, but I don't have enough info to make a great call about it as far as my opinion."
Sadler who voiced his displeasure over the team's radio saying the ruling was "so wrong" and "they just took the championship right out of our hands," ended the race in fifteenth position and afterwards headed to the NASCAR trailer to protest the call. Following the meeting, Sadler offered a comment via Twitter stating, "After meeting with NASCAR, they said I DIDN'T JUMP START but seems to be my fault the 22 spun his tires I'm devastated "
Hornish, whose Indy resume includes an Indianapolis 500 win, drove to a solid second place finish, 3.304 seconds behind Keselowski and afterwards noted pit strategy made the difference at the finish.
"We took two tires there at the end to try to get the track position hoping that we'd get some green flag running towards the end, and then lo and behold, Brad (Keselowski) takes four and gets by us," Hornish stated, "That was probably the difference between being able to battle him as he was really strong all day long and just had a little bit more speed than we did." "To be that close, you know, "Hornish continued, "It would have been real nice to be able to do that. There's never a chance to win the inaugural Nationwide race again so if I seem a little bit disappointed, I guess that's probably why."
Ty Dillon, making only his second NASCAR Nationwide Series start, was most impressive in wheeling his way to a strong third place finish, just ahead of Denny Hamlin and older brother, Austin Dillon in fourth and fifth respectively.
"Just coming here, if you would have given me a top ten, I would have been ecstatic," Ty Dillon said, "I just wanted to have fun here at a historic track like Indy and I couldn't have done it without amazing equipment."
"Our car was just too loose all day and especially on restarts and we couldn't make any ground up, "Hamlin explained, "I was in the way for the first ten laps and track position is so important. Once you get going you have to have it and we just didn't have a car fast enough on the short run today."
"It's so important right now that you have to go on restarts as that's where all your passing is done and especially at a big track like this, momentum is huge," Austin Dillon stated describing the controversial restart in which he was the driver directly behind Elliott Sadler. "Going into that last restart, I was loaded for Bear to go and the 22 (Keselowski), I felt like I heard him go and we went. I pushed Elliott (Sadler) and the 22 spun his tires, I felt like, and I think the 22 (Hornish) was pushing him too. I don't know past that, I just went, so I kind of have to see the replay to really give you more information."
Michael Annett finished sixth and earned an extra $100,000 in the Nationwide Series Dash for Cash award while Joey Logano was seventh. Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Jeremy Clements rounded out the top ten finishers.
The Indiana 250 was slowed five times under the caution flag for a total of 24 laps, with the most serious incident occurring on lap 40 when Danica Patrick and Reed Sorenson tangled in turn one, sending both cars into the retaining wall.
Despite his misfortunes, Elliott Sadler retains his point lead in the championship standings by a single point over Austin Dillon while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is third, twelve points out of the lead.