Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Wins NRA American Warrior 300 Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, Ga. (Sept. 1, 2012) – After 195 laps, eight caution flags, and six different leaders, it all came down to … a water bottle?

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the NRA American Warrior 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway by battling past the night’s dominant driver, Kevin Harvick, and a charging Brad Keselowski, who had fresh tires.

Keselowski had fresh tires after changing them during a caution during laps 184-187. It was a caution brought out by debris. Television coverage showed footage from Keselowski’s in-car camera in which he was throwing a water bottle out of his car, but TV officials later confirmed that footage had been taped and was not being aired lived.

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NASCAR officials also confirmed that the caution was displayed due to a piece of aluminum that was on the outside of turn one.

“(The water bottle) came out of my car 15-20 laps before the yellow came out. I don’t know … specifically what lap it was,” said Keselowski, who seemed blindsided by the questions. “I don’t know why the yellow would come out. Yellows come out all the time without any explanation. That’s not a question for me; that’s a question for everybody that runs the show. I’m sure they felt like there was a reason, and that’s their right. Do I feel guilty for throwing a water bottle out of the car? No, everybody throws that stuff out of the car. I threw about three out during the course of the race, and I do every race. I don’t know how the two are linked together without NASCAR saying so.”

But none of that made Harvick feel any better about the way the night played out.

“Yeah it was intentional,” Harvick replied during a post-race media interview session, then turned to Keselowski, seated a foot away at the front table. “Sleep good tonight.”

Harvick was understandably frustrated after leading 157 laps. He still held the lead on the final restart, after all the drama of WaterBottleGate, as well another caution brought out after Danica Patrick tangled with James Buescher and Mike Bliss. But with Keselowski charging on his fresh new tires, and Stenhouse Jr. strategically plotting his course, Harvick was a sitting duck.

“All in all, we got beat on the last restart there and unfortunately because of the 22 car that threw the water bottle out there, we weren’t able to push the (No.) 6 up and they hung on my quarter panel,” Harvick said. “I got a little bit tight getting into one and they got a good run.”

Stenhouse Jr. used that run to propel himself into the lead on the final lap, relegating Keselowski to second and Harvick to third.

“We got a good restart, and I sucked down on him as hard as I could to slow him down,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “He started getting loose off of two and the (No.) 22 gave us a push down the front straightaway that helped us get to the lead.”

Points leader Elliott Sadler finished fourth, while Austin Dillon was the highest finishing rookie in sixth. Other notable finishes came from Patrick, who ended up 13th after running in the top 10 much of the night, and Travis Pastrana, who led his first NASCAR laps before scrubbing the wall and finishing 26th.

The racing action continues Sunday with the AdvoCare 500. Great seats are still available starting at $19 for students and $39 for adults. For tickets or more information call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

Results for the NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2. Brad Keselowski

3. Kevin Harvick

4. Elliott Sadler

5. Justin Allgaier

6. Austin Dillon

7. Kyle Busch

8. Cole Whitt

9. Sam Hornish Jr.

10. Michael Annett

11. Brian Scott

12. Denny Hamlin

13. Danica Patrick

14. Joe Nemechek

15. Jeremy Clements

16. Jason Bowles

17. Mike Wallace

18. Tayler Malsam

19. Danny Efland

20. Erik Darnell

21. Eric McClure

22. Mike Bliss

23. James Buescher

24. Benny Gordon

25. Kyle Fowler

26. Travis Pastrana

27. David Starr

28. Kasey Kahne

29. Tony Raines

30. Matt Carter

31. Robert Richardson Jr.

32. Reed Sorenson

33. Timmy Hill

34. Morgan Shepherd

35. Jeff Green

36. Blake Koch

37. Fain Skinner

38. Chase Miller

39. Mike Harmon

40. Josh Wise

41. Carl Long

42. JJ Yeley

43. Joey Gase

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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