Going into Turn 4, Ricky Stenhouse looked like he was going to cruise to a comfortable 1-second victory over Carl Edwards in Saturday night's Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway.
Instead, Stenhouse's engine expired as he headed towards the checkered flag, and Edwards quickly closed the gap as Stenhouse lost power. However, Edwards' car was sliding in fluid that had spilled out from behind Stenhouse's car and he had no traction and nowhere to go.
Kaboom. Edwards slammed into Stenhouse, pushing Stenhouse across the finish line for the win and destroying both Roush Fenway cars in the process.
"I hoped by the time I got to him he'd be out of the way, that was my only hope to win the race," Edwards told ESPN.
And while this contact was accidental, the previous contact between the drivers earlier in the race wasn't. The two bumped as they were battling for position, a tiff that spurned from contact a week previous at Nashville. After the race, cameras caught Stenhouse's crew chief Mike Kelley telling Edwards to "let him know, he thinks you hate him right now," after Edwards finished his explanation of the final few hundred feet.
During the race, Edwards seemed to take offense at what he perceived as Stenhouse's rough driving, going so far as to say afterwards that he felt "like an old man" telling kids to get off his lawn.
"I think we both were thinking about wrecking each other but we didn't plan on doing it like that," Edwards said.
For his part, Stenhouse, who got his first career Nationwide win earlier in the season at Iowa, didn't apologize for his move late in the race to march from fourth to the lead after the final restart.
"I was aggressive there at the end, you gotta do what you gotta do to win," Stenhouse said. "I wasn't about to back down."
While this teammate rivalry sounds salacious, it's doubtful that this will be much more than a short-track temper flareup. After all, Stenhouse has much more important things to worry about, like the Nationwide championship, and Edwards has newfound stability at Roush. (Not to mention that he's not racing for points in the Nationwide Series.)
Still, their feuding provided an intriguing setup to an incredible finish, even if the events weren't related in the slightest.
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