Indianapolis, IN – Brad Keselowski benefited from Elliott Sadler's penalty for jumping a late-race restart to win Saturday's inaugural Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Keselowski, a Sprint Cup Series regular, delivered team owner Roger Penske his maiden NASCAR win at this famed 2.5-mile racetrack. Penske has a record 15 victories in the Indianapolis 500.
"I've been watching races here for a long time as a kid from Michigan," Keselowski said. "I think everyone knows how special Indy is, and having any victory here is special. I'm just glad I was able to do it for Roger."
Keselowski also handed Penske his 100th overall win in NASCAR.
Sadler, who entered this race with a 13-point lead in the championship standings, passed Keselowski for the lead just after a restart with 18 laps remaining. But NASCAR officials determined Sadler jumped the restart and black-flagged him. Sadler and his crew chief, Luke Lambert, argued that he was hit from behind by his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon before the green-flag waved to resume the race.
NASCAR reviewed the restart again and concluded that Sadler did jump the restart. Sadler served his pass-through penalty with 11 laps remaining, handing the lead to Keselowski for good.
"He did not jump the restart, but the rules are that he cannot beat the number-one starter to the line, and that's what he did," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said after the race. "He clearly did that. He had him cleared by the time they got to the start-finish line and made no attempt to give it back. That's the rules of a restart."
Sadler, who wound up finishing 15th, met with race officials for an explanation of their ruling.
"We had some lengthy discussions, and Robin Pemberton told me that I did not jump the start," Sadler said. "The video (replay) clearly shows the 22 (Keselowski) going first and beating me to the restart line. The 12 (Sam Hornish Jr.) then hit the 22, getting him really loose and spinning his tires. The 3 (Dillon) is also pushing me, so it's not like I can stop either. I just got a better restart and beat him to the start-finish line. Robin Pemberton just told me, right out of his mouth, that I did not jump the start.
"This is a very tough penalty, and it's very hard to swallow at the inaugural race here at Indy, as I race to win."
Keselowski went on to finish 3.3 seconds ahead of teammate and former Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. It was a 1-2 finish for Penske Racing.
Ty Dillon, a Camping World Truck Series regular, finished third in just his second Nationwide race. Denny Hamlin and Ty's elder brother, Austin, rounded out the top-five.
Sadler remained the points leader, but Austin Dillon is only one point behind.
Michael Annett's sixth-place finish earned him the $100,000 "Dash 4 Cash" bonus from series title sponsor Nationwide Insurance. Annett, Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier were those drivers eligible for the cash award at Indy.
"This is the Brickyard, and we're not kissing any bricks today, but we got a big cardboard check that we can lay our lips on," Annett said.
Kyle Busch dominated most of the race by leading 51 laps, but Busch lost the top position when he encountered a slow four-tire pit stop late in the race. He then bumped into Sadler and spun around after restart with 22 laps to go. He ended up finishing 22nd.
Danica Patrick's first stock car race at Indy did not go as well as she had planned. Patrick started 20th and was running in the 14th position before she made contact with Reed Sorenson and then crashed hard into the wall on lap 39.
"I don't know what happened," said Patrick, who finished 35th. "I got into the center of the corner and got pretty close. I might have tapped (Sorenson), but I'm not sure. He was slowing down quite a bit. I didn't mean to take him out. I'm sorry if I did anything."
Sorenson retired from the race shortly after with a 33rd-place finish.
"I was about to pit on the next lap, but going into (turn) one, I went sideways," Sorenson said. "I don't know if she got in too hot or what the deal was."
Patrick had competed in the Indianapolis 500 each year from 2005-2011, with her best finish of third coming in that race in 2009.