HAMPTON, Ga. — There were two stories to Saturday night’s race.
Either Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made a dramatic last-lap pass of Kevin Harvick to win the NRA 300, or a water bottle tossed out of Brad Keselowski’s car caused a caution, which led to another caution that contributed to Harvick losing a race he dominated.
You make the call.
In either case, Stenhouse remains the victor – his fourth win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season – and moved him into second place in points, 12 behind leader Elliott Sadler.
“I’m glad we could make the end of the race interesting because (Harvick) killed us for the first 194 laps,” Stenhouse said. “He killed us, but it was cool to get him on that restart.”
Harvick led 157 of the 195 laps and at one point had a more than 15-second lead on his nearest competitor.
On Lap 183 and Harvick with a big lead, NASCAR threw a caution for debris in Turn 1 – and that’s when the controversy began.
Under caution, ESPN repeatedly showed footage of Keselowski throwing a water bottle out of his car, but the network confirmed after the race the footage was not live, but taped.
ESPN did show footage of the actual debris which caused the caution, but by that time most viewers, fans and even Harvick himself were under the impression the water bottle caused the caution.
Two laps after the restart, a four-car wreck brought out a red-flag period, which likely hurt Harvick’s chances on the final restart.
After the race, Harvick spent several minutes talking to Keselowski at his car, complaining his water bottle toss contributed to his loss.
“I didn’t know there was a yellow for a water bottle to begin with,” Keselowski told ESPN immediately after speaking to Harvick.
NASCAR officials later confirmed the debris which caused the next-to-last caution was a piece of aluminum high in Turn 1. ESPN footage showed a track worker picking up debris in that area.
Keselowski finished second, Harvick third, Sadler fourth and Justin Allgaier was fifth.