Nationwide Series Breakdown: DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans
By Justin Tucker
Brad Keselowski muscled past a dominant Kyle Busch on the last lap after a green,white,checkered restart to win Saturday’s DAV 200 Honoring America’s Veterans on Saturday Afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway. The win marked Keselowski’s fifth win of 2014 and the 32nd Nationwide Series win of his career.
The script that played out on Saturday was one that has been played out for much of the 2014 Nationwide Series season with Busch and Keselowski having the two best cars all day while leaving the field in their wake. Busch led a race high 187 laps from the pole and Keselowski never ran outside the top three for much of the day.
While Busch and Keselowski were fighting for the win, Chase Elliott was making history. Elliott came into the weekend only needing to finish ahead of his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith to claim his first Nationwide Series championship and become the youngest champion in NASCAR history. He did exactly that as he would finish 5th as his teammate Smith faded to 10th in the final laps.
Elliott Sadler finished 3rd,Ty Dillon 4th, and Elliott rounded out the top five. Erik Jones finished 6th, Brian Scott 7th, Brendan Gaughan came home 9th, and Smith rounded out the top ten.
It hasn’t been the year Elliott Sadler had hoped for in his final year at Joe Gibbs Racing before moving to Roush Fenway Racing next season but Saturday’s race at Phoenix was the high point of Sadler’s season. Sadler kept his No.11 One Main Financial Toyota near the front all day long finishing 3rd in his penultimate race with JGR. While it remains to be seen whether the move to RFR will pay off in the win column for Sadler its obvious that he is looking to close out 2014 with some momentum heading towards 2015.
Everybody knows that Jeremy Clements is one of many drivers that are outgunned equipment wise each week in the Nationwide Series. While good finishes come less often than not Clements has shown at times that he can compete at a high level against the Nationwide Series best and Phoenix proved to be one of those times as Clements would drive his No.51 car to a solid 11th place lead lap finish on Saturday.
I know its hard to dismiss a 10th place finish but when it comes to Regan Smith its very easy to do. Smith saw another potential championship fade away after being consistently outperformed his rookie teammate over the course the season. Smith is too good and in too good of equipment to be running on average 6th to 10th each week. 2015 is going to prove to be a crucial year for Smith if he plans on returning to the Sprint Cup Series in 2016 and the only way its going to happen is by winning the championship next season.
The 2014 Nationwide Series season comes to a close next weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway with the Ford EcoBoost 300 next Saturday with the Green flag at 4:46 P.M. ET.