Keselowski Finishes 12th at Dover Following Wild Finish
May 15, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Autostock
DOVER, Del. (May 14, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 12th in the 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover International Speedway (DIS) on Saturday afternoon. The reigning NNS champion was running fourth in the late stages of the event before he was involved in a multi-car accident on the penultimate lap.
Persistent rain showers in the Dover area wreaked havoc on the competition schedule. The morning qualifying session was washed out to start the day. Keselowski and the No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge lined up in the sixth position to start the race, based on the NASCAR rule that assigns starting positions based on highest average practice speed in the event of inclement weather. Then, the race was delayed by approximately 90 minutes as the track drying process played out at the "Monster Mile."
When the race began, Keselowski advised crew chief Todd Gordon that he felt as though he had no "mechanical" grip on the car. Instead all he felt was "aerodynamic" grip, which created a tight-handling condition on the exit of the high-banked DIS corners. NASCAR mandated a "competition" caution period at lap 40 to allow teams to check their tire wear on the "green" racetrack that had been washed clean of tire rubber. Under the caution, the Ruby Tuesday crew adjusted the air pressure and wedge in the No. 22 machine to help Keselowski get a better handle on the car in corner exit.
Upon restarting the event in the 11th position, Keselowski was able to race his way into the seventh spot on lap 76, despite a condition that did not improve with the team's previous adjustments. A lap 87 caution flag gave Gordon and Keselowski an opportunity to implement their pre-race strategy by taking only two tires. Good work by the No. 22 crew gave Keselowski the lead as the race resumed on lap 101.
Keselowski was able to keep his No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge running inside the top-five as the race moved towards the final 50 laps. Keselowski visited pit road for the final time on lap 141, under the yellow flag. As the cars prepared to return to green-flag racing, a small rain shower moved over the racetrack. NASCAR brought the event to a halt as it was red-flagged for 29 minutes while the dryers circled the track. When the cars returned to action, Keselowski radioed that his car felt the best it had been all day and he began to set his sights on another "return-to-action top-five finish." When the seventh caution flag of the day came out at lap 197, it setup a "green-white-checkered" flag finish scenario and sent the race past the scheduled distance. The first "green-white-checkered" attempt was thwarted by a quick caution as soon as the green flag waved. On the second attempt, the No. 20 of Joey Logano bounced off the outside wall while coming out of Turn 3. Keselowski slowed his Ruby Tuesday Dodge to try to avoid any contact, but he was hit from behind by the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch. The contact sent Keselowski into the inside retaining wall and ended his run one lap short of the finish as he was eventually scored in 12th place.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team sit 10th in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
"I'm really proud of the team effort put forth this weekend," said Keselowski. "I wasn't feeling well yesterday and everyone stepped up to ensure we wouldn't miss a beat when I got out of the car during practice. I felt like we could probably come out of here with a top-three finish. That's just the way it goes. I'm disappointed for my guys. We're just racing hard on these restarts; that's what you have to do. A little wreck like that down the straightaway and the next thing you know, the whole field is involved. With tight tracks like this, there's nowhere to go."
Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will visit Iowa Speedway on Sunday, May 22 for the John Deere Dealers 250 presented by Pioneer. Live coverage will begin at 2:00 pm ET on the ABC network. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.