Flat Tire On Final Lap Spoils Victory Hopes in Las Vegas

March 5, 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 5, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished third in the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) on Saturday afternoon. Keselowski led the event on the final lap, but after taking the white flag, the right front tire on the car went flat which prevented the reigning Nationwide Series champion from claiming his first victory of the season.
Keselowski started the race from the 11th position after posting a lap of 30.054 seconds, or 179.677 miles per hour, during Saturday morning's qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Todd Gordon that his Discount Tire Dodge was loose getting into the LVMS corners, but he was happy with the speed of the car. Gordon elected to make air pressure adjustments as Keselowski made his way down pit road under the green flag on lap 50. After Keselowski exited his pit box, he was caught for speeding. Forced to serve a pass through penalty on lap 54, Keselowski fell a lap down to the leaders.
As he maintained his position, Keselowski was able to return to lead lap racing when he received a "wave around" when Gordon kept him on the track following a lap 65 caution flag. After the race resumed on lap 70, Keselowski was able to make his way inside the top-10 where he would remain for the balance of the event. Keselowski narrowly escaped incident on lap 100 as he made contact with the No. 30 car of Reed Sorenson as both drivers had to swerve to miss the spinning car of Donnie Neuenberger. The nose of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge suffered minimal damage, but it did not affect the performance of the car.
Despite a loose-handling condition on the exit of the corners at LVMS, Keselowski was one of the fastest cars on the track during the late stages of the event. Under a lap-140 caution period, Gordon called Keselowski down pit road for two tires and fuel. This would be the last pit stop of the day as Keselowski did a great job conserving fuel to the end of the race. As the race leaders began making their pit stops on lap 189, Keselowski assumed the lead for the first time all afternoon. It appeared that he would cruise to his 13th career Nationwide Series victory, but the flat tire on the final lap forced him into the outside wall. He was still able to finish inside the top-five for the first time this season with a strong third-place finish.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the Discount Tire Dodge Challenger team sit 18th in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
"We weren't anywhere near as fast as the top three, but we were a fourth-place car and from there used great strategy and smarts to get ourselves in position to win the race," said Keselowski. "I drove up through the field and leveled off at about sixth knowing that everyone in front of us was going to have to pit. I was trying to conserve my stuff and watch Mark (Martin) behind and watch my gap – I felt like I did a good job of that. I felt like we had it (race win), but obviously we didn't."
Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will enjoy an off-week before moving to Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 19, for the Scotts Turf Builder 300. Coverage can be seen live beginning at 2:00 pm EST on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.