Keselowski Finishes 27th at Darlington
May 7, 2011
Keselowski Finishes 27th at Darlington Following Multi-Car Accident
DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 6, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 27th in the Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway on Friday evening. The reigning NNS champion was caught up in a multi-car accident on lap 95 that brought his night to a premature ending.
Keselowski began the day with a two-and-a-half hour practice session, in which he posted the 10th-fastest time as he lapped the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval in 28.970 seconds, or 169.748 miles per hour. Persistent rain showers in the Darlington area canceled the afternoon qualifying session and the starting field was set according to the 2011 NASCAR rulebook. This meant that Keselowski started the event from the 10th position based on his practice time.
The chassis on the Ruby Tuesday machine began the race with a loose-handling condition that Keselowski found to be fast enough to turn laps as quick as the race leaders once the green flag flew. Keselowski radioed that his car began to tighten up exiting the corners at Darlington as the run progressed and he chose to bide his time until the competition caution flag came out on lap 25. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make adjustments to the air pressure to help with the handling of the Ruby Tuesday Dodge. Fast work by the No. 22 pit crew resulted Keselowski picking up one pick up one spot on pit road and restart the race from the seventh position on lap 32.
As the 147-lap race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski noted that his car continued to tighten on the exit of the corners at the historic race track and this was the area where he was losing the most time. Keselowski moved his racing line around to try to manage the tires and he found a line that kept his time from falling off as much as the cars he was racing. Gordon continued to adjust the air pressure in the Goodyear radials, while also moving the track bar to try to loosen up the chassis for his driver.
On lap 95, the No. 88 car of Aric Almirola and the No. 33 machine driven by Clint Bowyer made contact in the center of Turns 1 and 2. Keselowski was positioned right behind the two cars at the time of the incident and was caught up in the aftermath when the cars behind him could not stop and hit the No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger from behind. The damage to the car proved to be too significant for Keselowski to continue and he was scored in 27th place when the checkered flag waved.
Following Friday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team sit 10th in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“A tough deal for this Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger,” said Keselowski. “Our car was really good in the first-third of the corners, but not great off. I told Todd that I thought our car was a top-three car through the one-third (of the corner), but 20th off. The guys worked hard all night. It’s a tough deal for them. I love this track and really wanted to get a win here. Our finish certainly doesn’t represent how strong our car was tonight.”
Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will visit Dover International Speedway on Saturday, May 14 for the 5-Hour Energy 200. Live coverage will begin at 2:00 pm ET on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.