In a Nutshell: Brad Keselowski had the field at Milwaukee covered on Saturday night, leading 145 of the first 171 laps run. That all changed, however, when young phenom Joey Logano slammed into Keselowski in a turn while battling for the lead, caving in the left-front fender on Keselowski’s No. 88 Chevrolet. The damage took the handling, and a shot at the win, away from the No. 88. Logano, however, couldn’t hold off a hard-charging Carl Edwards, who bumped Clint Bowyer for the lead late and broke through to score his first Nationwide Series win since Nashville in 2007 in his debut with new crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.
Edwards, who apologized in victory lane for his contact with Bowyer, refrained from his traditional backflip celebration to pay his respects to departed drag racer Scott Kalitta. Logano, Bowyer, David Ragan and David Reutimann rounded out the top five. Bowyer’s third-place run allowed him to stretch his points lead to 188 over second-place Keselowski.
Who Should Have Won: Keselowski. For the majority of Saturday’s race, the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was what Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 has been all season; dominant. Keselowski held off numerous hard charges on restarts and proved to be nearly untouchable on the long run, aided by stellar pit work all night long from the U.S. Navy crew. Keselowski’s pursuit of his second Nationwide Series win in three weeks was derailed, though, by the No. 20 of JGR. Again. This time, Logano was responsible. While battling for the lead fiercely, Logano overdrove a corner and slammed into Keselowski, causing significant aerodynamic damage to the left front of his Chevrolet. Though Keselowski managed to finish eighth, he lost valuable championship points to leader Bowyer because of Logano’s reckless maneuver. Those hoping for a Logano/Keselowski rivalry to emerge got a boost after this Saturday night.
Logano, more than in any of his previous Nationwide Series starts, showed how inexperienced a rookie he is on Saturday. His contact with Keselowski on the track, as well as with Bowyer on pit road demonstrated a lack of track presence on numerous occasions as well as a lack of patience. Yet, despite all that, Logano led laps, challenged for the win and finished second, his third top 10 in four starts. The last four races have made it very clear that Logano is well worth the hype he is receiving and is a name that NASCAR fans are going to hear for a long time to come. One can’t help but question why JGR is reportedly opting to bench Logano for the next three weeks to allow their Cup drivers to come back to the Nationwide Series ranks.
Scott Wimmer was racing in front of his home crowd Saturday night, and Wimmer delivered another performance to remind them why he’s driving for Richard Childress Racing. Wimmer started 12th and adjusted on his Chevrolet throughout the race, running in the top 10 all night and scoring a sixth-place finish. Wimmer’s run was his third consecutive top 10 in the No. 29, and also kept the No. 29 team third in the owner standings (behind Joe Gibbs’s No. 20 and the No. 2, Wimmer’s teammate at RCR).
Better Luck Next Time
Halfway through the race, JR Motorsports was posed to enjoy a banner evening. Keselowski had the dominant car of the race, while development driver Landon Cassill had his No. 5 Chevrolet in the third position, poised to score his strongest career finish. That all soured in the race’s second half. Keselowski was all but wrecked out of the lead and left to struggle to score a top-10 finish. Cassill, meanwhile, was unable to follow-up on his third-place run in the Truck Series race at Milwaukee when his engine dropped a cylinder. He finished 22nd. Though they collectively ran extremely well at the Milwaukee Mile, neither JRM team had much to show for it at race’s end.
Florida short-track veteran Travis Kittleson found himself out of his full-time USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series ride early this season and turned to Mac Hill Motorsports for a part-time Nationwide Series campaign in an effort to move up in the NASCAR ranks. Saturday night didn’t do Kittleson any favors. Kittleson spun his No. 56 Chevrolet twice during the race, the second of which smashed the back end of his underfunded machine. Kittleson’s three-race deal with Mac Hill Motorsports ended with the race in Milwaukee, and his 31st-place finish may well not be enough to land another ride in the Nationwide Series.
In recent weeks, there have been few drivers hotter on the Nationwide Series circuit than David Stremme. Kiss that momentum goodbye. After qualifying 17th, a lap the driver found disappointing, Stremme struggled to stay in the top 15, and spun out early. Bogged down in traffic, Stremme couldn’t find the handle on his car, and on lap 157 spun again and did considerable damage to his car, leaving him with a 34th-place finish. Stremme was less than complimentary of the “idiots” in the back of the Nationwide Series field, claiming after being stuck back there that he knew why they “wreck every week.” He blamed his problems on a broken shock in his car. Stremme now sits less than 100 points inside the top 10 in points ahead of Nationwide Series regulars Jason Leffler and Jason Keller.
Underdog Performer of the Race
With a lot of higher-budget Cup teams on the sidelines the last few weekends, longtime journeyman driver Stanton Barrett has managed to race his self-owned No. 30 Chevrolet to an impressive set of finishes. Barrett fell down a lap early on Saturday night, but got a Lucky Dog pass and rallied to score a solid 17th-place finish. Milwaukee marked the third consecutive race for Barrett and his No. 30 team, its longest streak of consecutive starts of the season, and also his third consecutive top-25 finish. Barrett has run over half the races in the Nationwide Series so far this season, and has proven capable of fielding competitive racecars for himself. This Hollywood stuntman has still got some speed in him.
“The back flip is something that I do because I’m real excited to win and I feel like doing it when I win. Today, with what happened with Mr. Kalitta and the way I passed Clint [Bowyer], I just didn’t feel like doing a back flip. I felt bad for the fans, they were a little upset about it, but hopefully we’ll come back here next year and we’ll do it again and I’ll give them a really nice one.” – Carl Edwards in the Nationwide Series Victory Lane for the first time since June 2007
“We just pretty much got wrecked by the No. 9 there. I don’t know what he was doing or didn’t see me or what. We were well up alongside of him and he just came down, turned into our door of our No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion and spun us around and that was that. We got back out there, it wasn’t too bad, I thought we were still in good shape and tried to pass the No. 33 on the outside and he turned up into us and wrecked us again. It’s unfortunate that those two guys had to do that and be that way. I guess that’s part of racing and I certainly won’t forget that.” – Colin Braun on fellow competitors Chase Miller and Cale Gale after an eventful race
“The contact was definitely my fault.” – Joey Logano on his incident with Brad Keselowski
Up Next: The NASCAR Nationwide Series next heads to Loudon, New Hampshire on Saturday, June 28, for the Camping World RV Sales 200. Coverage from the Magic Mile begins at 2:30 p.m. on ABC and 3 p.m. on MRN.