Mark Martin slipped past Brad Keselowski on the final lap and earned his 49th career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory in the Sam’s Town 300 on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski assumed the lead on lap 189 during green-flag pit stops and appeared to be cruising to the win but cut a tire on the final lap and smacked the wall. Martin, who had been trying to conserve fuel in the closing laps, dodged Keselowski’s car and sprinted to the checkered flag.
Justin Allgaier also got by Keselowski and took second. Keselowski was third, Danica Patrick finished fourth and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was fifth. Patrick’s finish was her best in 16 career Nationwide Series starts and set a record for the highest finish by a female driver in a NASCAR national series race.
“I can’t gloat; if Brad hadn’t had a tire problem, it looked to me like he was going to win,” Martin said. “All I could do is make sure that I didn’t run out of gas because I knew we wouldn’t win if we did that. It worked out for us today. We got her back to the start/finish line first and that’s who gets the trophy.”
Pole-sitter Carl Edwards finished sixth, Denny Hamlin was seventh and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jason Leffler and Kenny Wallace rounded out the top 10.
Patrick’s finish was the highest by a female driver in a NASCAR national series since Sara Christian finished sixth in a race in 1949.
“I guess that’s something I don’t really think about – and maybe that’s why it works out,” Patrick said of her history-making finish. “I don’t think about trying to achieve the highest finishing position for a female; I think about trying to win the race and if I make history, then so be it.”
Hometown favorite Kyle Busch, who started second, led 84 of the first 126 laps and appeared to have the car to beat until he got into the infield grass trying to make a pass on the frontstretch on lap 130 and spun into the infield wall.
“I just got a really big run off the top side and switched down to the bottom and thought I had a clear track down there and then the 22 (Brad Keselowski) came down a little bit to block,” Busch said. “I didn’t want to run into him so I gave him a little more room and got into the grass.
“I knew you’re not supposed to get in the grass – I’m not that stupid. I thought I could hold on to it at least and then once we got sliding through the grass there, I tried to lock it down and get it back straight and got into the inside fence.”