RICHMOND, Va. – Brad Keselowski may have won Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Int’l Raceway, but it was Brian Scott who made the biggest statement.
Scott was the class of the field Friday night at the three-quarter-mile oval. He started from the pole in the No. 2 Chevrolet and dominated the race, leading the first 239 laps of the 250-lap event. But it was a pair of late-race restarts that would ultimately decide who would go to victory lane in the 1,000th race in the history of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Brian Scott was the race leader with 20 laps left when Hal Martin bounced off the wall and left debris on the track, resulting in a caution flag. Pit stops followed under caution, with Scott maintaining the lead ahead of Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
The field returned to racing with 16 laps left and Scott was able to quickly leave the field in the dust. Unfortunately for Scott, contact in the back of the pack sent Matt Kenseth into the wall in turn four to bring out another caution flag.
That would set up the first of two controversial restarts. The green flag waved and it appeared Scott spun the tires on his Chevrolet, allowing Keselowski to beat Scott to the start/finish line. Keselowski stayed side-by-side with Scott in the first two turns and was able to clear Scott to take the race lead coming down the backstretch.
Just as Keselowski took the lead, a crash involving Travis Pastrana and Landon Cassill forced NASCAR to wave what would be the final caution flag of the night.
That caution flag set up a six-lap dash to the finish, with Keselowski now in the lead ahead of Scott. Keselowski got a huge jump during the restart, leaving the entire field in the dust by the time he reached the start/finish line.
With Keselowski comfortably out front, the battle became for second. Regan Smith had managed to overtake Scott on the restart, but Scott refused to give up. He was able to track down Smith to retake second place on the final lap, but there was no way he was going to catch Keselowski.
When the checkered flag waved, Keselowski picked up his fifth Nationwide victory of the season and 25th of his career. Scott finished second, nearly two seconds behind the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
“These Ford Mustangs are really, really fast. We just had to get the adjustments right,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “We had to change a few things on the car on the pit stops with the adjustment tools and the car just came alive and that was key to getting us to victory lane.
When asked about the final restart, Keselowski said he was simply trying to use a different tactic then the one Scott had been using all night during restarts.
“Brian had been going really deep in the (restart) box and I knew that was going to be his tactic for what he was going to do when he was beside me, so I just went as soon as I got to the box,” Keselowski said. “It caught him a little bit off guard and we were able to drive away.”
Scott was clearly upset after the race, going so far as to say Keselowski jumped the final restart.
“We just had a great car, unfortunately the restart before the last I didn’t get a great restart and he beat us to the line. I was a little upset about that call,” Scott said. “Then on the final restart Brad, he went two or three car lengths early. I mean, I think it looked pretty obvious when I saw the replay on TV.
“That never gave us the chance to put on a race for the fans and race side-by-side into turn one, which I think would have been a lot more interesting. I’ve seen people penalized for less questionable restarts than that and I don’t understand why there wasn’t a penalty,” Scott said.
Smith finished third, followed by Busch and Trevor Bayne. Sam Hornish Jr., Brian Vickers, Elliott Sadler, Ryan Reed and Jamie McMurray completed the top 10.