Brad Keselowski beat points leader Kyle Busch in a tight and exciting battle to win the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Although the JR Motorsports driver led nearly half of the distance, he had to face a strong challenge from Busch, who started from the rear of the field but stole the lead from Keselowski with 25 laps remaining, partly due to two new tyres he took on a late caution, while Keselowski chose to stay on the track on a used set.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver seemed to be making the most of his fresher rubber when he got by the leader, but after the final restart with only 10 laps remaining, Keselowski got a run on Busch and retook the lead, then fended him off until the chequered flag.
"If I'd finished second I'd be kicking myself right now but it worked out and I'm feeling pretty good about it," said Keselowski about his team's decision not to pit on the penultimate caution.
"Kyle was a little bit better on the short runs and he put those two tyres on and he had me. We were in trouble but just kept digging hard and forced the mistakes on Kyle's part and were able to drive by him."
Busch was left frustrated as yet another win slipped through his fingers on the closing laps. Not even tying Jack Ingram's record for most consecutive top two finishes with nine in a row, was of any consolation to the 24-year-old, who further stretched his lead in the standings.
"Just imagine if all those seconds were wins," said Busch, who has won three races in his last nine Nationwide Series outings.
"Good battle but our cars just wasn't good enough today, or I wasn't good enough, probably me," said Busch. "We fought tight off [the corners] all day and then there at the end we were loose off. So I don't know what to do here with these races but very, very disappointing, very, very frustrating. I guess I just come here to finish second in these deals."
Jason Leffler was able to fend off former Nationwide Series champion Carl Edwards for third place, scoring his 14th top ten finish in the last 16 races. Behind Edwards, Kelly Bires rounded out the top five.
Penske rookie Justin Allgaier led the race early on but was involved in an incident with only 15 laps remaining when he made contact with Erik Darnell and Steven Wallace while battling for fourth place, managing just a 15th place finish in the end .
Busch has now a 207 point cushion to Edwards in the championship, with Keselowski 165 behind the Roush Fenway driver.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 250 2. Kyle Busch Toyota 250 3. Jason Leffler Toyota 250 4. Carl Edwards Ford 250 5. Kelly Bires Toyota 250 6. Jason Keller Ford 250 7. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 250 8. Michael McDowell Dodge 250 9. Scott Lagasse Jr Toyota 250 10. Stephen Leicht Chevrolet 250 11. Michael Annett Toyota 250 12. Benny Gordon Ford 250 13. Brad Coleman Toyota 250 14. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 250 15. Justin Allgaier Dodge 250 16. John Borneman III Ford 250 17. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 250 18. Tony Raines Chevrolet 250 19. Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 250 20. Eric McClure Ford 250 21. Matt Carter Ford 248 22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 248 23. Erik Darnell Ford 247 24. Danny O'Quinn Jr Chevrolet 245 25. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 244 26. Trevor Bayne Toyota 244 27. Sean Murphy Dodge 222 28. Austin Dillon Chevrolet 211 29. John Wes Townley Ford 205 30. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 195 31. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 168 32. Brian Ickler Toyota 165 33. Ken Butler III Chevrolet 108 34. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 74 35. Casey Atwood Ford 37 36. Jeff Fuller Chevrolet 31 37. Kertus Davis Chevrolet 26 38. Mark Green Chevrolet 21 39. Kevin Lepage Dodge 19 40. Chase Miller Chevrolet 9 41. Coleman Pressley Toyota 8 42. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 7 43. Mike Harmon Chevrolet 6