Keselowski Records Ninth-Place Finish at Michigan
June 19, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Autostock
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 18, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished ninth in the Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Keselowski battled back from a pit road penalty late in the race to record his 10th top-10 finish of the season.
Keselowski began the 125-lap race from the eighth position after posting a lap of 40.308 seconds, or 178.625 miles per hour, during the Saturday morning qualifying session. When the green flag flew on the race, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Todd Gordon that his car was over-rotating in the center of the MIS corners and it needed more forward bite exiting the turns. Gordon called for air pressure and wedge adjustments to the Discount Tire Dodge under a green-flag pit stop on lap 32. As the pit stops cycled through at lap 41, Keselowski found himself running in the 11th position.
As the second run of the day progressed, the Rochester Hills, Mich., native stated that the car had tightened up its handling, but he still needed a little more help in getting it secure enough to turn fast laps on the two-mile oval. More air pressure adjustments, along with a lowering of the track bar, on the second pit stop of the day gave Keselowski the feel he needed on the car to make a march back towards the front of the field.
When the second caution flag of the day flew at lap 56, Keselowski had raced his way back inside the top 10. Keeping with the team's pre-race pit strategy, Gordon elected to keep his driver on the racing surface while many of the other competitors visited pit road. This resulted in Keselowski claiming the lead when the race resumed at lap 61.
The last pit stop of the day for the Discount Tire Dodge team came at lap 88 when, unfortunately, a crew member did not stay in constant contact with the right rear tire after it was taken off the car and it rolled toward the pit wall. This violation of the NASCAR rulebook resulted in Keselowski being forced to serve a drive through penalty on pit lane at lap 91. He would lose a lap to the race leaders in the process. However, when the final caution of the day flew at lap 94, Keselowski was able to stay on the track to receive the "wave around" to return to lead-lap racing. After he restarted the race in the 18th position at lap 101, a determined Keselowski was able to make his way up to the ninth place before crossing the finish line.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are now ranked ninth in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
"A tough break for us today with the Discount Tire Dodge," said Keselowski. "We started out really, really loose and I did everything I could to get us to the first set of pit stops so (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) could get our Dodge Challenger tightened up. The difference in our car from the first run to the third was night and day. We knew that there were going to be long green runs, so we gambled a bit around lap 60 and decided not to pit when the caution flew so we could gain track position. It worked. We restarted as the leader, but when we came back to pit around lap 91, we got black-flagged for an uncontrolled tire on pit road and lost all of our track position. That's racing. Stuff happens; it's just part of the deal. We fought back late and were able to take a wave around with just under 30 laps to go and finished ninth. A hard fought day by the Discount Tire guys. It just wasn't the finish we were looking for today."
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team, with driver Jacques Villeneuve filling in for Keselowski, will visit Road America on Saturday, June 25 for the Bucyrus 200. Live coverage will begin at 5:30 pm ET on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.