Edwards wins race, Keselowski misses Chase
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — NASCAR will have a new champion at the end of the season after reigning champ Brad Keselowski failed to make the cut for the Chase for the Championship after Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.
An ill-timed caution ruined the race for Keselowski, as it did for Ryan Newman, whose own misfortune sparked the latest of NASCAR’s conspiracy theories.
Newman passed eventual winner Carl Edwards with 10 laps to go to take the lead for what should have been enough to get him into the Chase but then Clint Bowyer spun three laps later to bring out a caution that ruined Newman’s race. The benefactor was Martin Truex Jr. who is Bowyer’s teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing and had struggled the entire race.
Newman and Truex went into the race fighting over the second of two wild cards in the 12-driver Chase field, and the race win would give it to Newman. Only he lost the lead on pit road, wound up finishing third, and Truex grabbed the final spot in the Chase.
Conspiracy theorists immediately accused Bowyer of spinning on purpose to help his teammate.
“They are teammates. I don’t know if he looked at the scoring pylon, knew I was leading, it doesn’t matter,” Newman said. “If that was the case, I’ll find out one way or the other. At the same time we still had the opportunity to make our own destiny and win it on pit road, and we didn’t. That being said, we’re out.”
Truex, who broke his right wrist two weeks ago in a crash at Bristol and has been racing with a cast, said he had no idea who even caused the caution.
“I don’t know. I don’t have any thoughts on it. I raced my (butt) off all night long, that’s all I can do. I didn’t even know (Bowyer) brought out the caution until after the race.”
Kasey Kahne claimed the first wild-card berth, and Joey Logano, Keselowski’s teammate at Penske Racing, qualified for the Chase for the first time in his career, by rounding out the top 10 in points. Logano edged four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon for the final spot in the Chase field.
Edwards darted past Paul Menard on a restart with three laps remaining to take the win. Kurt Busch finished second to make Furniture Row Racing the first single-car organization to make the Chase.