OXFORD — NASCAR Nationwide points leader Brad Keselowski was close-mouthed about Saturday night’s incident with nemesis Carl Edwards during the Nationwide race at Gateway International in Madison, Ill.
Keselowski ran in the TD Bank 250 Sunday night at Oxford Plains Speedway. He finished 22nd after starting last when he had to use a promoters’ provisional to qualify.
Keselowski and Edwards, who have tangled before in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series, were racing for the win on the final two laps when Keselowski nudged Edwards in the left back quarter panel to take the lead.
As the raced down the front stretch toward the start-finish line, Edwards spun leader Keslowski, whose car careened across the track into the inside wall and was then T-boned by a helpless Shelby Howard, destroying Keselowski’s car.
Edwards admitted in a TV interview that he purposely took Keselowski out because Keselowski tried to take him out.
Edwards captured the win, Keselowski finished 14th and Keselowski’s father, Bob, said in a post-race TV interview “I’ll get my own damn uniform back on and take care of this. He’s not going to kill my boy.”
Edwards had sent Keselowski flying in the air during a Sprint Cup race in Atlanta earlier this season.
When asked what he thought of the incident, Keselowski said “a lot of things. But I’m here for this deal. I’ll save those thoughts for when this is done. I try not to think about it. I’m here to have a good time and I’ve been too busy to think about it.”
Does he feel NASCAR will get involved?
“They’ll figure it out,” he responded.
He said he was “still sore” physically, but felt it was important “to jump back into a race car and prove that I’m all right.”
Keselowski, who is also a regular in the Sprint Cup series, failed to qualify for the 250 but earned a provisional and started last (39th).
He said he was enjoying the racing.
“I’m having fun. It’s cool running with the local racers and getting back to the roots of the sport,” he said. “And they’re really receptive to drivers coming in from the NASCAR world.”
He had talked to previous Oxford 250 participants Kurt and Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick and they “all told me how great this race was to go do and how much fun they had.
“As a race-car driver, you go where you’re wanted and the community here wants us here and that’s why I’m here,” he said.
Keseslowski left St. Louis at 4 a.m. Sunday morning and arrived in Maine at 8 a.m.
“It was a long ride,” he said.
The 26-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., said he enjoyed the nuances of the three-eighths mile track.
“It’s different, but it’s a fun racetrack. I love the curve on the bottom. That’s kind of neat. It adds a new element to it. The way the banking drops off is kind of cool, too,” said Keselowski.
He said he hasn’t been in a Late Model car since 2004 and he said “that was a Super Late Model car. They’re faster, a little lighter and they have a little more grip.
“But they’re all race cars and they all provide different challenges,” said Keselowski who finished second in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series race to Harvick at Gateway on Friday night.
Harvick won the 2008 TD Bank 250 at Oxford, the only NASCAR ringer to do so since Bill Ryan brought Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth to Oxford in 2004.
Ironically, starting outside Keselowski in the first heat race was Buckfield’s Tim Brackett, who drove the No. 60 car.
No. 60 is the same number of Edwards’ Nationwide car.
Vermont driver wins pole
Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt., was elated to win the pole.
Hoar, who went on to finish second in the 250, is the American-Canadian Tour points leader and the defending points champ.
“This is awesome,” said Hoar, who finished fourth a year ago.
The TD Bank 250 is a race he always enjoyed when he was racing Late Models before the race switched from Pro Stocks to Late Models in 2007.
“We used to race Late Models at Oxford on Saturday night and then we’d stay over and watch the 250,” said the 38-year-old Hoar, the general manager of an auto dealership in Vermont.
Hoar won five ACT points championships in the 1990s before moving on the Busch North (East) series from 2001-2006.
He took a year off from racing before car owner Rick Paya invited him to return to the ACT series in 2009. Jean Paul Cyr had decided to leave Paya’s team.
Hoar won the points in 2009 and is leading the series again this season, he has five top three finishes in six ACT races including two wins.
“It’s been a dream season,” said Hoar.
Young drivers don’t qualify
Two youngsters from eastern Maine failed to qualify.
Rowland Robinson Jr. of Steuben, currently leading the Late Model points at Wiscasset Raceway, and Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault, who is running in the ACT and PASS North Super Late Model series.
“My clutch was slipping,” said Robinson who has had an interesting season.
“I’ve won races at Spud Speedway, Unity Raceway and Speedway 95 but I haven’t won a race at Wiscasset,” said the 20-year-old Robinson.
He said even though it is a three-hour drive to Wiscasset; 50 minutes to Hermon’s Speedway 95 and 1:45 to Unity Raceway, he prefers Wiscasset Raceway because “I prefer the way it’s run.”
He also prefers the tire rule, which saves him money.
Theriault, who is 16, said he has had a “pretty good season,” but said his first experience trying to qualify for the TD Bank 250 was “difficult.
“The car wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be,” said Theriault. “And you can’t do much when you’re out on the track.”
Pittston driver qualifies
Nineteen-year-old Ben Ashline of Pittston qualified for the 250 for the first time in his career. He received a provisional a year ago and finished 25th.
“After last year’s race, our goal was to qualify for this year’s race and we did it. This is a huge deal. It has taken a lot of work.”
Ashline, a Gardiner High School graduate, started 24th and went on to finish 26th.
Earnhardt involved in accident
Jeffrey Earnhardt, who made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut on Friday night and was involved in an accident, failed to qualify for the 250 and wasn’t given a provisional.
Earnhardt is the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. and finished fifth in points for the Andy Santerre Motorsports team in the K & N Pro Series East series a few years ago.