CLERMONT, Ind. – Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski kept it clean.
Kyle Busch kept on winning.
Busch held off Edwards on a late restart to win the NASCAR Nationwide race at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday night, collecting his eighth victory of the season while sending a friendly reminder about who drives the dominant car in NASCAR's No. 2 series.
Busch led 144 laps and had just enough at the end to fend off Edwards, who wasn't about to send Busch into the wall a week after punting Keselowski on the final lap in St. Louis, a move that forced NASCAR officials to dock him 60 points and fine him $25,000.
"It was good, hard clean racing," Busch said. "That's what happens when you race each other cleanly over time and with respect, you get respect back."
Busch has certainly earned it. His fifth win in his last six Nationwide starts gives him 38 for his career. Only Mark Martin with 48 has more.
A week after their run-in forced NASCAR officials to step in saying they each crossed the line, Keselowski and Edwards were on their best behavior at the crowded 0.686-mile oval.
The rivals found themselves running within a couple car lengths of each other for a long stretch at the beginning of the race and again on a late restart. This time each driver made sure to give the other a wide berth.
"We gave each other plenty of room, and that's good," Edwards said. "Hopefully, we can keep doing that going forward."
Keselowski, who was placed on probation through the end of the year along with Edwards for his role in last week's final-lap scuffle, had no issues with Edwards this time.
"I thought it was pretty decent racing by most everybody, just good hard short-tracking," he said.
Particularly by Busch. He was dominant at times before using a little moxie to beat Edwards even though Edwards had fresher tires after making a late pit stop.
Busch appeared to be in the clear before Joe Nemechek hit the wall with less than 10 laps remaining. The caution set up a green/white/checkered finish, with Busch opting to take the outside lane on the restart.
Edwards hung back figuring Busch would take his time before restarting the race. The second Edwards relaxed, Busch was gone.
"In my mind, I thought he was going to go late, so as soon as I laid back, he took off," Edwards said.
Edwards rallied to get on Busch's rear quarterpanel coming out of Turn 4, but unlike last week, he opted not to dump Busch into the wall. Busch admitted getting "dive bombed" by Edwards was a concern, but figured if Edwards did creep up and take Busch out, he wouldn't win the race either.
"I knew (the possibility) was there, but if I could just keep enough momentum rolling, just keep my car rolling, I felt like any time he'd lay a bumper to me, he'd get sideways too," Busch said. "I felt like it was all about trying to keep the momentum rolling, keep the car stuck as best I could."
It was all the daylight Busch needed to continue his mastery of the series. Though Keselowski holds a 205-point lead over Edwards in the championship race, Busch has left little doubt that he's the driver to beat whenever he's behind his No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Busch fought back a laugh on Friday while talking about the ongoing feud between Edwards and Keselowski, saying it wouldn't affect the way he drives.
Of course it helps when you have the fastest car. Busch qualified fifth and then quickly tracked down Bayne to take the lead. He had little trouble pulling away, toying with the field at times before having just enough to stay in front of Edwards.
"You've got to have a really, really methodical way about doing it here, and there just wasn't enough time for him to do it in two laps," Busch said.