CLERMONT, Ind. (July 24, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished eighth in the Kroger 200 benefiting Riley Hospital for Children at O’Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) on Saturday night. Keselowski persevered through a potential disastrous start to the event when several cars tangled while taking the green flag, as well as clutch problems that plagued his race, to secure his 17th top-10 finish of the 2010 Nationwide Series season.
Keselowski continues to lead the Nationwide Series driver point standings by 205 points over second-place contender Carl Edwards.
Keselowski spent most of his day flying between ORP and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he was qualifying and practicing for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series. He was able to make laps in both practice sessions at ORP, finding his way to the top of the scoring monitor each time. His time of 22.621 seconds in final practice was over a second faster than the rest of the field. However, Keselowski could only post the eighth-fastest time during the afternoon qualifying session as he mirrored his practice lap by turning in a fast-lap time of 22.619 seconds.
As the competitors worked their way off of Turn 4 to take the green flag, a chain-reaction backup at the front of the field caused several drivers to make contact with one another. Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger were right in the middle of the incident, but the damage to the car was minimal and he was able to continue the race without repairs. However, the team lost three spots in the running order as a result.
Determined to regain position, Keselowski settled into a focused rhythm, despite a racecar that was loose getting into Turn 1. He was able to work his way back to the seventh position before the first caution flag of the race flew on lap 75 by turning in times that were three-tenths of a second faster than the leaders. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called Keselowski down pit road for air pressure and track bar adjustments. Great work by the No. 22 pit crew resulted in Keselowski restarting the race in the fifth position on lap 82. However, as Keselowski made his way into his pit stall, he noticed that his clutch pedal had lost pressure. He and Wolfe closely monitored this for the rest of the event.
By lap 93, Keselowski had worked his way to the third position. He radioed to Wolfe that the previous adjustments made him tight in the center of the corners. On lap 110, he made the pass for second-place and set his sights on the back bumper of the race leader. Another caution period on lap 118 gave Wolfe a chance to continue to adjust on the No. 22 chassis. This time he called for an air pressure adjustment to the Goodyear radials. Keselowski restated the race in the fourth position on lap 125.
Keselowski kept his No. 22 Dodge inside the top-five over the next 35 laps. When a lap 160 caution flag flew with Keselowski running in second place, Wolfe called for him to “follow the leader” when deciding on whether or not to enter pit road. As the leader of the race stayed on the track, so did Keselowski. As the race restarted on lap 172, Keselowski was unable to hold off the competitors that had fresher tires than him. A late-race caution forced the event one lap past its scheduled distance of 200 laps with Keselowski crossing the finish line in the eighth position.
Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier finished seventh.
“We just didn’t catch any breaks all night,” said Keselowski. “Before we even caught the green flag, we were all tore up. It was just one of those days. I’m really happy to get out of here with an eighth-place finish instead of being behind the wall putting a radiator in it. Looking at it from that perspective, you kind of count your blessings and try to take your eighth and move on.”
The No.22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team will move to Iowa Speedway next weekend for a 250-lap event. The race can be seen live on Saturday, July 31, on ESPN2 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 Kroger 200 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 1