Keselowski Sets Top-Five Record at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 20, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, put the finishing touches on his championship season by finishing third in the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) on Saturday evening. The result marked the 26th top-five finish for the driver, which sets a new Nationwide Series record for top-five finishes in a season.
Keselowski, who clinched the 2010 Nationwide Series championship two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway, began the race from the third position following a lap of 31.615 seconds, or 170.805 mph, during the Saturday morning time trial session. When the race began, Keselowski had to deal with a handling condition that he described as tight in the middle of both ends of HMS. A lap 23 caution flag gave crew chief Paul Wolfe an opportunity to loosen up the chassis with a wedge adjustment.
The adjustment had a positive effect on the handling condition, but Keselowski still had trouble turning in the center of the corners. Wolfe continued to improve this with adjustments that included track bar changes and adding tape to the nose of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge. As he did so, Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top five in the running order. As the race moved past the halfway mark, the driver moved up to the high line on the racing surface in an effort to find grip. As he did so, Keselowski began turning some of the fastest laps on the track.
When the eighth caution flag of the day flew on lap 134, Keselowski and Wolfe devised a plan to give them the best shot to win the race. As most of the other competitors made their way down pit road for their last set of fresh tires, the No. 22 pit crew placed "scuffed" tires on Keselowski's Dodge, saving a set of tires for a late-race pit stop. Despite having tires with many more laps on them than the rest of the leaders, Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top five. A lap 174 caution period gave the driver/crew chief duo a great opportunity to execute their strategy. However, after the four-tire pit stop, Keselowski restarted the race from the 22nd position as many of the other lead-lap cars chose not to visit pit road for service. Keselowski was able to slice his way through the field -- passing six cars on the first lap back under the green flag -- but he was not able to get to the race leader and crossed the finish line in third place.
With the finish, Keselowski extends his NASCAR record with his 102nd consecutive Nationwide Series race without a DNF (Did Not Finish).
Penske Racing teammates Justin Allgaier and Sam Hornish Jr. finished in the 11th and 21st positions, respectively
"It's been a long ride to get here (to this championship)," said Keselowski. "It's been a good ride, a lot of fun. It's pretty amazing. From just a few years back to not having a job in this sport and really thinking that I'd have to get a 'real' job, to being out here and winning the championship and establishing yourself, it's been an amazing journey. Hopefully, we can carry this success to the Cup side."
The No.22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team will head into the off-season to prepare for the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway in February. The 2011 season will be the first season in which the new Dodge Challenger will be used exclusively in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
-source: penske racing