Stenhouse Gets Message In The Bottle
HAMPTON, Ga. — A wayward water bottle was the main topic of conversation after Saturday night’s NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sneaked into the lead on the final lap and took his fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season.
Stenhouse took advantage of a controversial late-race restart, which allowed Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier to stop for fresh tires and left Kevin Harvick, who dominated the race as a sitting duck.
Harvick led 157 laps of the 1.5-mile superspeedway in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, but blamed eventual runner-up Brad Keselowski and the water bottle he tossed out the window of his No. 22 Dodge, for the final yellow flag and Stenhouse’s ability to pass him on the final lap.
Keselowski battled back from two laps down after a pair of speeding penalties and used the late yellow flag, which Harvick claimed NASCAR called because of the bottle Keselowski discarded, to pit for fresh tires.
Those tires helped him push Stenhouse’s Roush Fenway Ford to the outside of Harvick on the final lap, letting the defending series champion take the lead.
Keselowski finished second with Harvick third. Harvick confronted Keselowski after the race and despite NASCAR officials saying the yellow flag was for debris and not the wayward bottle, Harvick had a different view.
“The six car (Stenhouse) had the fresher tires and he had the car (Keselowski) that threw the water bottle out the window to get the caution pushing him at the end of the race,” Harvick said.
Keselowski didn’t think the yellow could have been for the bottle.
“Obviously I threw a water bottle out, but everybody in the damn garage throws a water bottle out,” Keselowski said.
Meanwhile, Stenhouse was celebrating in victory lane after trimming fourth-place finisher Elliott Sadler’s point lead to only 12 points.
“I knew I had to get everything he could on the restart,” Stenhouse said. “He (Harvick) slipped getting off of two and the 22 gave me a big push going down the backstretch and we were able to slide up into the lead.”
Allgaier finished fifth.
Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Cole Whitt, Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael Annett completed the top 10.