You could see it coming. The drivers in NASCAR's Nationwide Series wouldn't be able to hold back the fire and determination of Brad Keselowski forever. Saturday night at Nashville, the dominoes fell into place and the young driver found himself in Victory Lane for the first time at the end of a wild night of racing.
Joe Gibbs racing phenom Joey Logano sat on the pole after an afternoon qualifying session that saw temperatures soar into the mid-90's, with track temps hitting 115 degrees and higher. Logano got off to an equally hot start in the race, leading 64 laps before being shuffled back after a pit-stop shakeup. Logano was stuck in traffic and struggled to get back towards the front. His march to the front was permanently halted when the #16 of Greg Biffle tapped him while racing three and four-wide coming out of turn 4. After bouncing off Kyle Busch, Logano almost had it saved before hitting the outside wall head-on, puncturing the radiator and effectively ending his night. Logano would later return the racetrack and finish in 31st position.
After the restarts, which were on the wild side all night, Clint Bowyer found himself on the point and led a race-high 71 laps. However, after a caution in the late stages, fuel mileage came into play, with some drivers vowing to stay out and attempt to make it all the way on fuel. The #88 of Brad Keselowski, who had run 2nd behind Logano in the first part of the race, had pitted and like Logano, found himself mired in traffic. Keselowski slowly made his way towards the front, chasing down race leader David Reutimann. Although he was faster than Reutimann, Keselowski found himself way behind and needing a caution to have any chance of victory.
With about 10 to go, Keselowski caught his big break. The #52 of Brad Teague spun coming off turn 2, allowing the field to catch up to Reutimann and set up a late race dash to the finish.
On the restart, Reutimann was rooted off the bottom of the track by Clint Bowyer for the lead, which allowed Keselowski to follow and claim 2nd spot. Bowyer was unable to hold off the fresher tires of Keselowski, and the US Navy Monte Carlo set sail and flew past Bowyer with 6 laps to go, and cruised to the victory.
For Keselowski, it is his first career Nationwide Series victory. After many "almost" moments, he finally pulled it off at a track known for first-time winners.
Following Keselowski was David Stremme, David Reutimann, Clint Bowyer, and David Regan to round out the top 5. (Think we have enough Davids in the top 5?)
Next week the Nationwide Series is off to Kentucky Speedway.