Keselowski Scores Improbable Win at Lucas Oil Raceway
July 31, 2011Keselowski Scores Improbable Win at Lucas Oil Raceway
CLERMONT, Ind. (July 30, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), scored his second win of 2011 in the Kroger 200 benefiting Riley Hospital for Children at Lucas Oil Raceway (LOR) on Saturday night. It marked the 14th career series win for the reigning NNS champion and one that he will cherish, both for the memorable ending and the fact this may be the final NNS race at the unique Indianapolis bullring.
Keselowski began the 200-lap race from the second position – which continued a strong string of qualifying efforts – after posting a lap of 22.848 seconds, or 108.088 miles per hour, during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. When the green flag flew to begin the race, Keselowski immediately radioed that he needed help turning the car in the center of the LOR corners. He was able to maintain his position inside the top five until the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 48. Crew chief Todd Gordon brought his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to the air pressure and track bar. Keselowski maintained his top-five position as he restarted the race in third place at lap 54.
With the handling condition on the Discount Tire Dodge slightly improved, Keselowski began turning some of the fastest laps on the track. He was able to race his way back into second place at lap 55 and looked to have a car that would make its way to the front of the pack. However, the handling deteriorated on the No. 22 Dodge over the long run and by lap 114, Keselowski found himself in the seventh position. Gordon called for wedge and air pressure adjustments under a lap 115 trip to pit road in order to give his driver a car that would turn better in the center of the corners. Keselowski returned to the track in the 12th position after an issue slowed the team on the stop.
When the race resumed, Keselowski radioed that his car was a “rocket” over the short run, but it continued to fall off the longer he ran. This could have been a foreshadow to the finish that lay ahead. Following a caution on lap 189, Keselowski was set to restart the race in the fourth position. However, the second-place car of Justin Allgaier developed a fire under the hood and he had to pull to the garage area. The NASCAR rulebook states that cars don’t change lanes if a competitor in front of them has an issue. Instead the entire row moves up one position. This placed Keselowski on the outside of the front row as the race resumed on lap 197. He was able to use his car’s short-run speed to take the lead at lap 199 after hard racing with the No. 16 of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Keselowski held off Stenhouse as the race went past the scheduled 200 laps following a late-race caution.
Following Friday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are ranked sixth in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“I’m not sure what happened at the end of that race,” said Keselowski. “I’m going to have to go back and watch it on TV to fully understand what happened. The 16 car blew up. The 31 caught on fire. We ended up (restarting) in second position on the outside lane and I knew that if I could get around the 6 car that we had a shot at the win. I had a great short-run car that could give Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) a run for his money. If the race was two of three laps longer, I’m sure Ricky would have drove around us. Our Discount Tire Dodge Challenger was great on the short run. It’s great to get back to victory lane again.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will visit Iowa Speedway on Saturday, August 6 for the US Cellular 250 presented by the Enlist Weed Control System. Live coverage will begin at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN2. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
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