MADISON, Ill. (July 17, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 14th in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway on Saturday night. Keselowski displayed a dominant car throughout the entire event as he led a race-high 139 laps, but an incident coming off the final turn of the last lap kept him from securing his fourth victory of the season.
Keselowski continues to lead the Nationwide Series driver point standings by 168 points over second-place contender Carl Edwards.
In the final practice session of the day on Friday, Keselowski posted the third-quickest lap overall with a fast-lap time of 33.572 seconds, or 134.040 miles per hour, placing him in great shape to contend for what would be his fifth series pole award of the season. However, as the track temperature began to rise on a day where the heat index was over 100 degrees, Keselowski was only able to post the third-quickest lap in the time trials as he lapped the 1.25-mile circuit in 33.769 seconds, or 133.258 miles per hour.
As the race began, Keselowski quickly maneuvered his No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge into the lead on lap 3. As he began to stretch the legs of his Penske Racing engine, Keselowski was able to extend his lead to two seconds in just seven laps. Despite pulling away from the cars behind him, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe the he needed some grip in his rear tires. The lead grew to over five seconds before the caution came out on lap 44. Wolfe brought Keselowski down pit road for air pressure and track bar adjustments and Keselowski restarted the event in second-place on lap 51.
In a similar fashion to the way the race started, Keselowski regained the lead on lap 52. He was able to keep his car at the point for the next 68 laps, despite a loose-handling condition in Turns 3 and 4. It was during the long green-flag run that Keselowski also developed brake problems. As he attempted to make his way onto pit road at lap 120, Keselowski could not get his Dodge Charger slowed down enough to make the sharp corners. As a result, he spun through the infield grass before gathering the car and entering pit road. While he lost time to the leaders, he was able to make it back up with a fast car on the racing surface.
When the green-flag pit stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself running in the third position. The balance of the car became more to his liking after the round of adjustments on laps 120 and, as a result, Keselowski was able to drive back into the lead on lap 142. Over the next 37 laps, Keselowski never fell lower than second in the running order.
A lap 178 caution gave most of the lead lap cars their final opportunity to make their way down pit road for adjustments. Wolfe called for a two-tire pit stop that got Keselowski off pit road in the sixth position, but first of the cars that pitted. Despite two subsequent cautions on laps 187 and 194 that interrupted the flow of the race, Keselowski was able to slice his way to the lead. Following a red flag period after the lap 194 caution, Keselowski restarted the race from the top spot on lap 198. Intense side-by-side racing ensued over the final laps between Keselowski and Carl Edwards. With the checkered flag in his sights coming off of Turn 4, Keselowski was turned by Edwards into the outside retaining wall. The rest of the field tried to dodge Keselowski as he spun back down the track, but he was hit violently in the right-side by a competitor that had nowhere to go. Keselowski walked to the infield care center under his own power and was evaluated and released shortly.
Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier finished 25th.
“I’m OK,” said Keselowski. “Just one of them deals I guess. It was really hard short-track racing there the last two laps. This is kind of an intermediate short track where you have straightaway speed and down force is important. We were racing real hard, side by side. 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.
The No.22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team will move to O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis next weekend for the Kroger 200 benefiting Riley Hospital for Children. The race can be seen live on Saturday, July 24, on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The event can also be heard live on MRN Radio, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.
Brad Keselowski Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 136
Points Position: 1