12 August 2012
Nationwide: Edwards back with a win
Out in front, Keselowski continued to lead until the start of green flag pit stops on lap 20, and picked up where he'd left off when the cycles were completed on lap 29; Paul Menard's stop was complicated by a voltage problem that required a return visit to pit road for a battery swap.
20-year-old road course specialist Alex Kennedy had led several laps in the #87 during that period by staying out longer than anyone, but his race came to an end on lap 39 when he got loose, spun and crashed at turn 3 which also provoked Austin Dillon into a spin in order to avoid him. That led to a restart at just past the halfway point, with Keselowski now leading Edwards, Joey Logano, Hornish and Kyle Busch.
Busch had been having an eventful race, starting from near the back of the grid because of his engine failure on Friday but already up to 16th place by the time the first caution came out on lap 6, and into the top ten shortly after the restart. Even though a broken gear lever compromised his midrace, he managed to lead a lap during the next cycle of green flag pit stops.
Before that sequence could play out, the third caution of the day came out on lap 56 after Joe Nemechek stalled his car in the inner loop. Miguel Paludo, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Truex, Joe Nemechek and Mike Wallace had yet to make their visits to pit road and were duly listed as the race leaders, and they duly came in under the caution, as did Menard (for his third battery of the day) and Logano who had spun the previous lap after contact with Edwards. "Tell Carl to bite me," said the fuming Joe Gibbs Racing driver, plotting a hot-tempered revenge that ultimately did not play out after his engine dropped a cylinder and left him off the pace by the end of the race.
At the restart there was a scramble for the lead which included a three-wide banzai move by Busch into turn 1 which rewarded him with second place behind Keselowski. Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kasey Kahne slotted into place behind them.
Busch wasn't able to hold on to second spot for long, however, losing the position to Edwards just a couple of laps later on and then getting some contact from Hornish trying to do likewise. A lap later and the race was back under yellow for the fourth time of the day, after Cole Whitt tore off his front bumper on the guardrail at turn 5 at the entrance to the inner loop.
Keselowski looked to have a good breakaway at the restart with ten laps remaining, only to have Edwards pass him on the outside into the esses; behind them, Kyle Busch dropped places in rapid succession to Hornish, Stenhouse and Logano as it emerged that he was now suffering from a sticking throttle to add to his woes.
"Weï¿½ve had so many issues, itï¿½s just crazy," said Mike Bean, the crew chief for the #54 Kyle Busch Motorsport entry. "The shifter ball broke off probably 20 laps ago and Kyle did a great job sticking with it. The throttle is sticking; weï¿½ve had so many issues. Just losing that engine yesterday and then having the problem there at qualifying and starting at the rear."
Meanwhile Keselowski had managed to hang on to the back of Edwards' #60, and he made his move on lap 76, momentarily regaining the lead onto to lose it again to Edwards on the run down into turn 1 at the start of the next lap. Before Keselowski could strike back, the track was under caution again for Austin Dillon's right front tyre blowing out on him after contact with Michael Annett heading into the inner loop.
That set up a restart with two laps remaining - not quite an official green-white-chequered finish, but the next best thing. Edwards had control of the restart, but by the end of lap 81 Keselowski was going side-by-side with Edwards for the win.
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