By Justin Whitaker
SPEEDWAY — Penske Racing is an organization that has seen victory lane 15 times at the Indianapolis 500 and now team owner Roger Penske can put a stock car feather in his cap.
Brad Keselowski led the last 12 laps en route to the inaugural victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Indiana 250, giving Penske his first stock car victory at the historical Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 100th victory overall in NASCAR racing.
“I’ve been watching races here since I was a kid in Michigan,” said Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich. “Everybody knows how special Indy is and any win that you can have here, whether it’s the (Indy) 500 or the Brickyard here tomorrow, the first Nationwide race, every race is special. I’m just glad to do it for Roger (Penske).”
The driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge appreciated the prestige that comes with winning at Indianapolis.
“Just a special day, the Brickyard means so much to all of us race car drivers and to the sport,“ Keselowski said. “It’s a special place to race, I’m glad to be some small part of that with winning the inaugural Nationwide race here and I hope I can be a big part of that history by being able to win tomorrow and pull off that double. That would be extremely special to me.”
Keselowski etched his name in the history books last season by winning the final Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway and added another accolade to his young career, the first Nationwide Series winner at the Brickyard.
Sam Hornish Jr. finished second; helping give Penske Racing it’s third ever 1-2 finish in the Nationwide Series.
“To be able to come out of here with a 1-2 for Penske Racing is great,” Hornish Jr. said. “Wish the ‘Captain’ was here to enjoy it with us but the guys at Penske Racing did a wonderful job. They brought two new cars here for Brad and I and put a lot of work into this race.”
Rookie Ty Dillon placed third and the pole-sitter for the Curtiss Shaver 400 at The Brickyard Denny Hamlin came in fourth.
Austin Dillon finished fifth and now trails series points leader Elliot Sadler by one point.
The victory for Keslowski does not come without controversy though.
On a restart with 19 laps remaining, Keslowski appeared to spin his tires leading the field to the green flag. Sadler, restarting on the outside of Row 1 accelerated with Austin Dillon pushing him and beat Keslowski to the line — a NASCAR violation when the leader is not the first car to cross the start-finish line on a restart.
“Going into that last restart, I’m loaded and prepared to go, the 22, I felt like I could hear him go and we went,” Austin Dillon said. “I pushed Elliott, the 22 spun his tires. I felt like and I think the 12 was pushing him too.”
Sadler was black flagged by NASCAR, but stayed on the track as the leader for six laps as his crew argued the penalty. He served the drive-thru penalty with 12 laps to go and finished 15th.
Keslowski felt that Sadler did jump the restart.
“My perception of it was I got a push from Sam and it was a little more than I could take. Certainly, I wasn’t going full throttle but I was not in the zone when Elliott took off,” he said. “It appeared that Elliott got a push from behind as well and maybe he just couldn’t slow down, I don’t know how it all played out.”
Former IndyCar driver Danica Patrick made her return to the track where race fans caught “Danicamania” after her fourth-place finish and Rookie of the Year honors in the 2005 Indianapolis 500.
Patrick qualified 20th and on Lap 39 had advanced to 15th when her return trip to Indy was wrecked. Racing Reed Sorenson for 14th place, Patrick made contact with Sorenson entering Turn 1. Patrick went high to avoid the crash but Sorenson hooked back up the track in front of her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet and the pair collided, effectively ending her day in 35th place.