It was the third major encounter between Edwards and Keselowski in the past two years, and as with the last time at Atlanta in March, Keselowski ended up on the losing end.
Although Edwards won the race, Keselowski dominated the entire affair, leading 136 of the 200 laps. But after a green-white-checkered restart, Edwards appeared to be gaining the lead in the first turn of the penultimate lap when Keselowski's car washed up the track and got Edwards out of shape.
Keselowski was able to take the lead, but as the cars came off the fourth turn on the final lap, Edwards managed to get close enough to turn left into Keselowski's right rear, sending him into the inside wall. Keselowski's car was then hit by two other cars and sent spinning like a top down the frontstretch in one of the more violent crashes of the year.
"Man, that's awesome!" Edwards shouted on his radio after hanging onto his out-of-shape car and taking the victory just ahead of Reed Sorenson. "Is he (Keselowski) all right?"
Keselowski appeared to be OK, but he went to the infield care center instead of victory lane.
Edwards Clashes With Keselowski
The mood was exactly the opposite in victory lane, and Edwards wasn't shy about taking responsibility for what clearly was a take-him-out move.
"I just couldn't let him take the win from me," Edwards said. "We came to win. He took it from us there in turn one. And, man, I just couldn't let him take it from us. I had to do what I had to do."
Keselowski, who finished 14th, said afterwards, "I'm OK. Just one of them deals, I guess. It was really hard short-track racing there the last two laps. We were racing real hard, side by side. Carl's car was really good. My car was really good. He had me pinned down a little bit which is good, that's good racing. I can respect that. Of course when you're pinned down, it takes the air off the right side of these cars. It got me a little loose. I just rubbed him a little bit, rubbed him a little bit in one and two. I'm sure we rubbed a little bit in three and four, but just good racing. It just didn't end in a good way.
"I was really proud of how we were racing each other," Keselowski said. "He was holding me tight and getting me a little loose which was cool. I was rubbing on him a little bit. It was just great racing. I figured out a way to beat him. He wasn't happy with me, so he wrecked me. Wrecking down the straightaway is never cool whether it's at 200 mph or 120. I'm sorry that's the way it had to end.
"I think he's trying to figure out how he can win the points when he hasn't run very well all year. I don't think that was cool at all. I'm sure he'll say how sorry he is, or how cool he thinks he is or how great of a guy he is in his own mind, but that's not reality."
In the winner's interview at the media center, Edwards said, "The deal is he'll eventually learn he can't run into my car over and over and put me in bad situations. In every situation, there's an aggressor and there's someone who reacts. I was not the aggressor in this situation."
Keselowski was clearly the class of the field, leading more than half of the 200 laps, but he was forced to battle for the lead in five late-race restarts. He did that the first four times, but not the last time, and suddenly the sport was confronted with a rough driving controversy every bit as touchy as the one from Atlanta in March, when Edwards retaliated in the Sprint Cup race and turned Keselowski at one of the fastest parts of the track, causing him to flip upside-down and crash roof first into the outside wall.
Last year, Keselowski got into Edwards as they battled to the finish at Talladega, causing Edwards' car to flip and crash into the retaining fence, injuring several spectators.
Edwards was unhurt at Talladega, and likewise for Keselowski at Atlanta and Gateway. NASCAR's only reaction after Edwards' intentional crash at Atlanta was to admonish him and put him on a three-race probation.
That may not be the case this time.
"I think this could create a problem," said ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace. "This could create a lot of controversy. It's gotten pretty physical out there, no doubt about that."