Allgaier nips Keselowski for Bristol NASCAR Nationwide win
It wasn't a hauler chat with NASCAR that kept Brad Keselowski from knocking Justin Allgaier out of the way in the closing laps of Saturday's Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Instead, Keselowski, the polesitter, took one for the company—Penske Racing—as Allgaier, his teammate, led all 27 laps of the final green-flag run to notch his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory.
The win came approximately eight hours after Keselowski, team owner Roger Penske, Carl Edwards and his team owner, Jack Roush, met with NASCAR about Edwards' retaliation against Keselowski on March 7 at Atlanta.
Allgaier grabbed the lead from Keselowski with an exceptional restart from the inside lane on lap 274, and Keselowski gave his teammate room to clear Keselowski's No. 22 Dodge as the cars exited Turn 2. Although Keselowski harried Allgaier through lapped traffic during the run to the finish—and on several occasions pulled alongside Allgaier's No. 12 Dodge—Allgaier ran mistake-free for the final laps and finished 0.178sec ahead of Keselowski.
Kyle Busch led 59 laps—second most to Keselowski's 72—and finished third. Edwards came home fourth and retained the series points lead by 26 points over Keselowski. Allgaier is third in the standings, 31 points behind Edwards.
Allgaier started 30th after a lackluster qualifying effort but quickly worked his way through the field. Staying out on old tires under caution on lap 147, while many of the other lead-lap cars came to pit road for service, catapulted him to third for a restart on lap 151, and Allgaier spent the rest of the afternoon in the top 10, finally taking the lead on lap 274.
"It was pretty unbelievable," Allgaier said. "We had a great car in practice, and I screwed up qualifying and didn't get the run we really needed and had to start 30th. But (crew chief) Chad (Walter) told me, 'You'll be there all day long, and if you push it really hard, you'll be in victory lane.'
"I wasn't sure we were going to be able to hold off Brad there for the last couple of laps, but Brad drove a heck of a race and ran us really clean. I'm just excited to get a 1-2 for Penske Racing."
Keselowski, who drove for JR Motorsports last year and wrecked Allgaier at Bristol, cut his teammate some slack on the final restart.
"On the restart there, he ran me up pretty high, but I really had no room to be angry with him, because last year I wrecked him in a really similar instance," Keselowski said. "I lifted and let him in and lost the lead there. I thought I had a shot at getting it back, but I just didn't catch the right breaks, as far as boxing him out in lapped traffic.
"This (Penske) Nationwide program is really in its infancy stages. It has limitless potential, and it's important that—in order for that potential to grow—that we don't self-destruct."
Kevin Harvick spun Joey Logano on the final lap and finished fifth, his 123rd top five in the series, tying him for the career lead with Tommy Houston. Allgaier's win was the first for Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since Aug. 24, 2007 at Bristol. It was the first 1-2 finish for Dodge in the series since July 30, 2005 at Gateway International Raceway.