By Joe Dunn
Forget that Brad Keselowski missed the first practice Friday at Nashville, and that he qualified 24th. When the green flag dropped for the Federated Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, he began a steady march to the front.
Keselowski’s Penske racing teammate, Justin Allgaier claimed the Coors light Pole Award earlier in the day, and led the first 58 laps while Keselowski advanced to the top 10. On lap 59, Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards took the lead away from Allgaier and held onto it until pit stops on lap 108. Reed Sorenson led for 15 laps until Keselowski finally grabbed the top spot on lap 126. On lap 167 he relinquished the lead during pit stops, then battling with Edwards they swapped the lead five times between lap 169 and lap 204, when Keselowski retook the lead for the final time.
Following Keselowski across the line was Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Justin Allgaier and Mike Bliss. Brad Coleman, Reed Sorenson, Steve Wallace, Scott Riggs and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top 10.
There were 8 cautions for 36 laps throughout the race. The first caution, on lap 5 was due to an accident involving the No. 16, 81 and 88. All three cars returned to the track, but the 81 car brought out the second caution on lap 63 when a right front tire blew, causing major damage to the car. After a lengthy visit to the garage, the 81 car of Michael McDowell did return to the track, but was only able to complete 134 of the scheduled 225 laps. On lap 108, the No. 15 of Michael Annett was involved in an accident with the No. 43 of Scott Lagasse Jr, who was two laps down. Lagasse’s night was ended by the wreck, while Annett continued to finish on the lead lap in 14th place. On lap 127 Trevor Bayne took a hard hit in turn 3 when a blown tire put him into the wall. The accident sent him to the infield care center where he was released without injury, but the damage to his No. 99 Toyota ended his night.
Keselowski remains the points leader, while Edwards advanced one spot to third. Other points moves included Jason Leffler up 2 to 7th, Steven Wallace up 3 to 9th and Brendan Gaughan up 3 to 11th. No teams moved into or out of the top 30 in points, however the 87 of Nemechek and the 81 of McDonald swapped the 29th and 30th positions. The 24 team of Ed Rensi remains in 31st, however with the No. 1 team of Phoenix Racing withdrawing from the series, the 24 car will get the locked in position next week at Kentucky Motor Speedway.