Keselowski Leads Most Laps, Finishes Sixth at Charlotte
October 15, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Autostock
CONCORD, N.C. (October 14, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished sixth in the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) on Friday night. Keselowski displayed a dominant car throughout the event while leading a race-high 119 laps, before a flat tire at lap 171 kept him from his fifth win of the season.
Keselowski began the 200-lap race from the third position after posting a lap of 29.188 seconds, or 185.008miles per hour, during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski immediately moved into the second position and stayed right on the bumper of leader Paul Menard before the first caution of the night at lap 25. Crew chief Todd Gordon called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and a small air pressure adjustment to alleviate the loose-handling condition Keselowski described on the exit of the CMS corners. A few competitors elected to make only two-tire pit stops and Keselowski restarted the event in the sixth position at lap 30.
The air pressure adjustment proved to be the correct call as Keselowski assumed the lead for the first time at lap 46. He radioed to his Discount Tire team that he was trying to race “nice and smooth” so to not wear out his equipment, but that his car was “amazing” in clean air. Fast work by the pit crew on a lap 70 pit stop kept Keselowski in the race lead. The Penske Racing driver could routinely stretch his lead out to nearly two seconds before backing off to conserve his car.
After leading 119 laps since taking the lead, Keselowski radioed that he had a flat tire lap 171. After nearly making contact with the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, Keselowski spun his Discount Tire machine while trying to make it to pit road for four fresh tires. Fortunately, the caution flag came out and he was able to make the stop under the yellow flag without losing a lap to the race leaders. After the pit stop, a sizable gash was noticed in the right rear tire that came off the Dodge Challenger.
With new Goodyear radials underneath him, Keselowski restarted the race in the 13th position at lap 177. Subsequent caution flags at laps 185 and 191 helped him race his way back to the sixth position before taking the checkered flag.
It should be noted that over the last five NNS races on 1.5-mile tracks, Keselowski has lead the field for 582 circuits while picking up three wins.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team remain sixth in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“It wasn’t meant to be today,” said Keselowski. “The Discount Dodge Challenger was fast. We had a shot at winning today and just ran over something while leading and cut down a right-rear tire. I was still able to get up to sixth on those last restarts from 13th, which I guess was okay. Honestly, I felt like if I had a couple more cracks at it, I could have got back up to the lead. Just wrong place, wrong time. One of those days.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will take two weeks off before visiting Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 1 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. Live coverage will begin at 12:55 pm ET on ESPN2. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.