The pyro show at the conclusion of the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway wasn’t the only fireworks display in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski came out of Turn 4 on the last lap side-by-side, but at the finish line, it was Edwards getting the checkers and Keselowski needing the wreckers. The win was the third for Edwards at his home track, making him the only driver to win more than two NNS races here. It was the 27th career Nationwide win for the 2007 series champion and his second this season. Two-time GIR winner Reed Sorenson earned runner-up honors for the second-consecutive year and polesitter Trevor Bayne rounded out the podium with a third-place finish.
“We had a great restart,” said Edwards while addressing the media during his post-race press conference. “My guys built me a great car. We came to the checkered flag, and I hate to see stuff tore up, but we came here to win and he took it from us there in Turn 1. Just an awesome race. … I’m sure some of them don’t like that win—Brad Keselowski fans and stuff—but, man, I just couldn’t let him take it from me. I had to do what I had to do.”
Keselowski started third and dominated the race, leading five times for 136 laps in his No. 22 Dodge and appeared to be headed for victory lane. But a caution involving Keselowski’s teammate Justin Allgaier at Lap 196 forced a four-minute race stoppage and bunched up the field on the restart. The two swapped the lead back and forth in the remaining two laps and it was coming out of Turn 4 when contact was made, putting Keselowski into the wall and creating a massive pileup. The wreck became even scarier when Shelby Howard, with nowhere to go, smashed into the helpless Keselowski at full speed. Fortunately, all the drivers involved were evaluated and released from the infield medical center, but the incident relegated the Penske Racing driver to a 14th-place finish and dropped his points lead over Edwards from 227 points to 168.
“I was really proud how we were racing each other,” Keselowski said after the race. “He was holding me tight and getting me a little loose which was cool. I was rubbing on him a little bit. It was just great racing. I figured out a way to beat him. He wasn’t happy with me, so he wrecked me. Wrecking down the straightaway is never cool whether it’s at 200 mph or 120. I’m sorry that’s the way it had to end.”