Ragan wins as Kyle Busch wrecks at Bristol
Bristol: David Ragan held off teammate Carl Edwards on a two-lap sprint to the finish Friday night to win the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Edwards settled for second, but shaved 91 points off the commanding lead Kyle Busch brought into the race. Busch, who started the night with a 339-point lead over Edwards, was wrecked by Chase Austin while leading early in the race and finished 28th.
Edwards now trails him by 248 points, and wasn’t disappointed to lose to his Roush Fenway Racing teammate.
“We didn’t come here to finish second, but he’s a great guy, a great teammate,” Edwards said. “If you guys don’t have a David Ragan hat or T-shirt, you need to go get one. There’s no better guy out there.”
Brad Keselowski finished third by overcoming his own early accident.
Amid mounting speculation he’ll leave Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nationwide team next season to drive in the Sprint Cup Series for Roger Penske, Keselowski coincidentally ran into Penske driver Justin Allgaier.
“Just 100 percent my fault,” said Keselowski, who declined to comment on his 2010 plans. “I was racing hard. I guess I was racing a little bit too hard.”
Austin, in just the fourth Nationwide race of his career, could relate.
The 19-year-old was a lap down when Busch passed Kevin Harvick for the lead. As Busch and Harvick rounded Turn 4, Austin inexplicably cut down the track and directly into Busch.
Replays showed his hand was out the window motioning his intent to move down the track, but he never knew the traffic was on his inside. He was radioing his team to inform them of a tire problem at the exact time his spotter tried to tell him about Busch and Harvick.
“I heard a lot of fans were happy about it — that’s how I knew it was Kyle,” Austin said of the crowd’s positive reaction to Busch wrecking.
Busch needed a few minutes to compose himself inside his team truck, but seemed sympathetic to Austin’s error when he finally emerged.
“Real unfortunate that it happened,” Busch said. “I’ve made mistakes too. Chase, I guess, didn’t have the spotter telling him the leaders were bearing down. It stinks.”
The bizarre accident allowed Edwards to climb back into the championship race, but he said a Busch wreck wasn’t how he wanted to chip away at the points lead.
“That was some raw excitement,” Edwards said. “That was unexpected. We made up some points, but that’s not the way we want to do it.”
Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.
It was only the second NASCAR victory for Ragan, who also won the Nationwide race at Talladega in April. He was thrilled to run up front at Bristol, where he’d never finished higher than eighth in five previous starts.
“We’re usually just mediocre here,” he admitted.
He had a decent lead over Edwards until debris on the track brought out the eighth caution of the race with eight laps remaining. He selected the outside for the double-file restart, then had to nervously circle around the track as NASCAR waved off the green flag each time Ragan thought the racing was about to resume.
“I felt like a field goal kicker, they kept calling timeouts,” Ragan said. “One to go, call it off. One to go, call it off”