JOLIET, Ill. (July 9, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 21st in the Dollar General 300 powered by Coca-Cola at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday night. Despite leading laps, a late-race miscue on pit road resulted in Keselowski running out of fuel with two laps to go in a race that ended under green-white-checkered flag conditions. He was able to pull down pit road for fuel and complete the event keeping his NASCAR-record streak of consecutive Nationwide Series finishes alive at 85 races.
Keselowski continues to lead the Nationwide Series driver point standings by 227 points over second-place contender Carl Edwards.
In the final practice session of the day on Friday, Keselowski posted the fifth-quickest lap overall with a fast-lap time of 30.641 seconds, or 176.234 mph, placing him in great shape to contend for what would be his fifth series pole award of the season. However, he came up three-thousandths of a second short with a lap of 30.421 seconds and had to settle for the outside of the front row with a second-place starting position.
As the race began, Keselowski was able to maintain his position inside the top three in the running order despite a tight handling condition in the center of both ends of the 1.5-mile track. He was able to assume the lead for one circuit on lap 56 before bringing his car down pit road for service under the green flag. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called for air pressure adjustments to help the tight condition. When the pit stop sequence cycled through, Keselowski found himself back in the lead.
Keselowski was able to pace the field in his No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger for the next 20 laps before relinquishing the lead on lap 80 due to a handling condition that moved to the loose side. He began to try different lines around the track on lap 114 in an attempt to pick up valuable time, while also trying to fix the handling condition with a different driving style. He was successful in doing so and began running the fastest lap times of any driver inside the top five.
A caution period on lap 143 gave Wolfe the opportunity to call Keselowski down pit road for track bar and air pressure adjustments in an attempt to give Keselowski the car he needed to contend for the win. He restarted the race in the eighth position on lap 147, but he quickly drove back inside the top five by lap 160.
When the third caution flag of the race flew on lap 187 for debris, all of the leaders made their way down pit road for what many thought would be the final time. Keselowski drove by his pit stall and was unable to bring his car to the attention of his crew. Instead of losing valuable track position by entering pit road on the next caution lap, Keselowski remained on the track to restart the race as the leader on lap 190, despite tires that had 45 laps on them and a fuel tank that was close to running empty by the end of the race.
Keselowski gave up the lead on lap 191, but he showed great determination by keeping his car in the second position with an opportunity to grab an improbable finish. The fourth caution of the night flew on lap 198, assuring that the race would finish in overtime. All of the leaders elected to stay on track. However, as Keselowski exited Turn 4 to restart the race, his Dodge Charger ran out of fuel. As the race restarted, Keselowski came down pit road for a quick splash of fuel. He was able to make it back to the track, but the race ended under caution with Keselowski one lap down to the race winner in 21st place.
Penske Racing teammates Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman finished 10th and 13th, respectively.
“I just missed my pit stall,” said Keselowski. “It wasn't going to hurt us (until the final caution and a green-white-checkered finish). It was going to be great for us; it was going to give us a second-place finish, maybe even better. I guess we were six laps to the good and running under yellow just sucked all the gas out of the car. I ran out coming to the green flag. It’s just one of those deals I guess."
The No.22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team will move to Gateway International Raceway next weekend for the Illinois-Missouri Dodge Dealers 250. The race can be seen live on Saturday, July 17, on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. EDT. The event can also be heard live on MRN Radio, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.
Brad Keselowski Dollar General 300 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 27
Points Position: 1