BROOKLYN, Mich. — Brian Vickers didn't see it coming. Brad Keselowski sure did.
With Vickers and Kyle Busch fighting it out on the final lap, Keselowski swooped in to grab the lead in the final turn and hold on to the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Michigan International.
"I knew they'd do what they did and that's why I was sitting there lurking," said Keselowski, a Michigan native. "The two of them together are a recipe for what you saw — that's just putting it the way it is."
Vickers finished second and Busch third, and they exchanged some heated words on pit road afterward.
Busch said in a television interview that Vickers' tactics were "just stupid," and Vickers responded by saying that Busch came over to his car on pit road "crying like a little baby" but ran off when Vickers offered to get out and "talk about it like men."
It also was a rough afternoon for Carl Edwards, whose hopes of a championship in the series took a hit when he crashed early.
"Man, just early in the race," he said, "and I probably should have been more cautious."
After trading the lead for much of the race, Busch and Vickers pitted with most of the lead-lap cars after a caution with 20 laps to go. They lined up in the second row for the restart behind Justin Allgaier, who didn't pit, and Keselowski, who took only two tires, for a 12-lap dash to the finish.
Busch immediately took the lead when Vickers got hung up behind Allgaier, but Vickers came back to challenge and the two were side-by-side when another caution came out with 10 laps left.
Vickers chose the outside lane on the final restart with seven laps to go and was poised to run away with the race. Busch caught back up and the two appeared ready to fight it out on the final lap when Keselowski came seemingly out of nowhere and passed them both.
Busch apparently bumped Vickers' car pulling onto pit road and the two exchanged words, but the confrontation didn't escalate. Then came a delightfully awkward news conference where they sat together and talked about one another while staring ahead.
"Ever since Richmond, I've had a trouble racing with (Vickers) so it's just another escalation of that," Busch said.
Busch criticized Vickers for not giving him enough room or paying attention to Keselowski.
"I knew (Keselowski) was coming and man, I was stuck," Busch said. "I didn't have anywhere to go."
Vickers admitted he didn't know Keselowski was coming so quickly, but wasn't willing to entertain Busch's second-guessing.
"I race everybody the way they race me," Vickers said. "We were racing for the win. Kyle, if you want to be upset with that, I'm sorry. That's my job to try and win the race. If anyone else disagrees, if anyone else thinks I should have just rolled out of it and let Kyle win, please raise your hand. I'm fine. The only thing I'm upset with is how he handled it after the race. I'm sure we can get past that."
The confrontation is unlikely to spill over into Sunday's Sprint Cup race, when Vickers will start from the pole and Busch will start near the back.
"He'll be up front tomorrow and I'll be in back, so we won't have anything," Busch said.
Both drivers then sped away on separate golf carts.
Keselowski admitted he probably wouldn't have won if Vickers and Busch had stayed single-file at the end.
"They didn't, so I guess it's irrelevant," Keselowski said.
It was a big moment for Keselowski, and up-and-coming talent who was thrilled to win a race in his home state and put on a pretty good show in the process.
"It was just good racing," said Keselowski, a native of Rochester Hills, Mich. "I sure hope everybody enjoyed it — it's not very often you get a three-wide battle for a lead with one to go."
The third-place finish put a slight damper on what has been a remarkable streak for Busch, who hadn't finished worse than second in his previous 10 Nationwide races. With Edwards' wreck Saturday, Busch now holds a commanding 339-point lead in the standings.
Edwards was uninjured in his early crash with Trevor Bayne, who managed to continue while Edwards took his damaged car to the garage.
Bayne, an 18-year-old driving for Michael Waltrip's team, was making only his ninth career Nationwide start but was second-fastest in qualifying earlier Saturday.
"It definitely looked like I didn't give Trevor enough room," Edwards said.