Keselowski Wins First Race With Penske Racing TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2010) -- Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Sunday night at Talladega Superspeedway after...
Keselowski Wins First Race With Penske Racing
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 2010) -- Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Sunday night at Talladega Superspeedway after he finished 34th in the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the Aaron's 499 Cup Series race earlier in the day. This is the second-consecutive weekend that rain has forced NASCAR to run both races on the same day.
Keselowski's Nationwide Series victory is the first for the 26-year-old driver since he made the move to Penske Racing last season.
Keselowski began the Cup Series race from the 25th starting position as the Saturday morning time trials were washed out and the field was set by the owner point standings. However, Keselowski and crew chief Jay Guy were confident in the drafting abilities of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger as Keselowski posted the second-fastest time during Friday's final practice session. He wasted little time in showing that speed as he raced his way inside the top-10 by lap five.
After assuming the race lead on lap 47, Keselowski kept his car near the front of the field until he made his way down pit road for a green flag pit stop on lap 64. While entering pit road, Keselowski was hit in the right front fender by the No. 47 car of Marcos Ambrose. The resulting body and front-end damage was severe enough that the crew spent portions of the next two pit stops making repairs. Keselowski also lost a lap to the leaders during the green flag stop. He was able to put himself in position for the "Lucky Dog" free pass to return to lead-lap racing, which he received when the caution flag fell yet again on lap 83.
Late in the race, Keselowski found himself running inside the top-15 cars when the final caution flag of the race fell on lap 181. This setup a "green-white-checkered" flag finish that sent the race into overtime by 10 laps. Though he was positioned for a top-15 finish, Keselowski was unfortunately involved in a last-lap accident that included multiple cars. The incident brought an end to the race for the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger as Keselowski was credited with a 34th-place finish.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish, Jr. finished eighth and 24th, respectively.
Following the ninth race of the season, Keselowski currently sits 26th in the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
While in the infield care center for his mandatory visit following an accident, the medical staff found Keselowski's CO (carbon monoxide) levels to be four times the normal level. It was communicated to him that he would not be allowed to participate in the Nationwide Series race, which was set to follow the Cup Series event by 45 minutes, if his CO levels did not drop significantly. This would have been a major blow to his championship hopes, but Keselowski was cleared to race just minutes before engines were fired for the Nationwide event.
Qualifying for the Nationwide Series race took place on Friday morning, prior to the inclement weather moving into the Talladega area. Keselowski was able to post the 23rd-fastest time in qualifying, but he was again confident that his car would race better than it qualified.
As in the Cup Series race, it did not take Keselowski long to drive his No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger inside the top-10, as he did so on lap 10. He and Penske Racing teammates Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman worked together early in the race and all three cars were able to run up front. Keselowski assumed his first lead of the race on lap 39.
Keselowski showed the strength of his Dodge Charger during the second half of the race as he was able to continually drive to the front of the field after having lost positions. A late-race caution on lap 113 set up the second "green-white-checkered" flag finish of the day and sent the race past its scheduled distance by three laps. Keselowski restarted the race in the fifth position and was focused on grabbing a top-five finish, considering that two of his closest competitors in the points battle were already out of the race. However, with a big push from the No. 20 car of Joey Logano, Keselowski was able to keep his car in front of a large, multi-car accident on the final lap to score his first victory of 2010.
Penske Racing teammates Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman finished 15th and 31st, respectively.
Following the eighth race of the season, Keselowski currently leads the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series driver and owner point standings by 60 points over Kevin Harvick.
"I'm happy for my Discount Tire team to be in Victory Lane," said Keselowski. "This team has been running so well all year that they deserve this win. I've got to thank Joey Logano; he gave me the push to win the race. It's the second year in a row that he's done that for me. He deserves some credit. It's just a great weekend for Discount Tire, Dodge and Penske Racing. I'm glad to be back in the points lead and glad to do it in Talladega; they have some of the best race fans in the world."
Both the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team and the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger teams will move to the state of Virginia next weekend for the Bubba Burger 250 and Crown Royal presents the Heath Calhoun 400 at Richmond International Raceway.