Brad Keselowski wins the 2014 DAV 200

Brad Keselowski, a second-place runner nearly all afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway, flew by Kyle Busch on the beginning of the last lap of an unexpected green-white-checkers finish to steal victory in the DAV 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. 

Chase Elliott, the 18-year-old son of 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Bill Elliott, finished fifth to become the youngest Nationwide champion in series history and the only rookie ever to take the title. 

After saying how this season was “a dream come true,” Elliott admitted to his lack of experience celebrating a championship.  He said with a grin: “I didn’t know if I was okay to do a burnout, so I went ahead and did one.”  Elliott was asked if his family sat around the kitchen table one day in the past to plot his racing career, and he admitted, “That conversation never happened.  For me it was more of a go-have-fun deal.”

Busch led 187 of 206 laps and seemed certain to capture yet another Nationwide race at PIR because his car always pulled away on the race’s four restarts, and he easily overtook Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Alex Bowman when they stayed on the track to inherit the top-three spots while the other leaders pitted.  Restarting fifth on lap 172, Busch retook the lead five laps later and appeared on his way to the checkered flag.

Bowman, a newcomer from nearby Tucson, Arizona, showed very well all day and stayed in or near the top five throughout.  But, he turned out to be low on fuel thanks to his team’s earlier strategy to not pit on lap 167.  Bowman’s Chevrolet gasped without power on the final lap, which cancelled a three-second lead held by Busch.  The caution for Bowman’s slow pace turned the end of the race into a two-lap overtime.

“We were faster than everybody else, just not at the right time,” said a glum Busch afterward.

Keselowski admitted he would have a tough time catching Busch at the end. 

“I couldn’t keep pace with him until l was able to get under him in (turns) three and four (on the white flag lap),” said Keselowski. So, it was just a drag race down to turn one.  This is one I’ll never forget.”

One more big event on Sunday will wrap up the 50th anniversary race season at Phoenix International Raceway.  The 27th annual Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 will pit the best drivers and teams for the penultimate NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season.  Eight drivers remain alive for the championship.

While the grandstand is sold out for the Cup race on Sunday, hillside seats remain available at $40 each.

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