HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Brad Keselowski charged from 11th to first in two laps to take the lead away from Kyle Larson and pull away to victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While Keselowski was celebrating in victory lane, Austin Dillon was celebrating his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship after beating rival Sam Hornish Jr. by a mere three points.
The race and the championship ended up coming down to a wild restart with five laps left, but it was what led to that restart that will have the pundits talking.
Larson was the race leader when Justin Allgaier slapped the wall and spun on lap 178, bringing out a caution flag. By this point in the race several teams had used up all of their allotted tires, but there were a few that still had fresh rubber in the pits.
Those that still had fresh tires pitted, including Keselowski in the Penske No. 48. He restarted 13th when the field returned to racing on lap 182, but the field was only able to complete one lap before the caution flag waved again. Regan Smith made contact with Jeremy Clements coming out of turn four, collecting Mike Wallace and dumping oil all over the front stretch.
Instead of red flagging the race to preserve as many green flag laps as possible, NASCAR instead ran 14 laps under caution while track workers attempted to clean up all the oil from the lap 182 crash.
The field finally returned to racing with five laps left in the 200-lap event and Keselowski, who restarted 11th, began his flight through the field. With three laps left Keselowski was up to second and before they got back around to start lap 199 Keselowski had taken the lead from Larson.
Keselowski ended up beating Larson to the checkered flag by 1.126 seconds.
“This is the test team at Penske and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) just showed up to call the race,” Keselowski said. “I don’t know, maybe it is the number (48). Discount Tire has been with us all year and I’m just glad to get them one more victory before the year is over.”
While Keselowski was racing to his seventh Nationwide victory of 2013, Hornish and Dillon were locked in an intense battle for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.