For the first time since 2005, a Nationwide Series regular was crowned a Nationwide Series champion…and he nearly won the race as well. Racing as aggressively as he has for much of the 2011 season, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. made a hard charge past Carl Edwards late, but fell a car length short of catching Brad Keselowski in a spirited dash to the checkered flag. Keselowski scored his fifth win of the 2011 season Saturday, with Stenhouse, Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 5.
Stenhouse entered Saturday needing only to finish 37th or better to clinch his first NASCAR championship, which came early courtesy of the usual fleet of start-and-parks at the back of the field. Stenhouse ended up leading a Roush Fenway Racing assault on the field which saw the Mustangs occupying three of the top 5 positions for much of the afternoon, until Bayne found trouble with the wall while rim-riding and losing a tire. Still, the three RFR drivers combined to lead 111 of the 200 circuits run. Elliott Sadler finished sixth in a strong conclusion to his 2011 campaign.