Keselowski Wins at Homestead in Final Race as Nationwide Series Champion
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 19, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), picked up his fifth win of the 2011 season in the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (HMS) on Saturday evening. It was a fitting way for the 2010 NNS champion to end his reign as Ricky Stenhouse Jr., ascended to the2011 series title. Saturday’s win marked the 17th NNS victory of Keselowski’s career and the 350th all-time victory for Penske Racing.
Keselowski began the 200-lap race from the pole position after posting a lap of 32.208 seconds, or 167.660 miles per hour, during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski radioed that the car was handling very tight in the center of the HMS corners, yet he was still able to race out to a one-and-a-half second lead before the NASCAR-mandated competition caution at lap 35. Crew chief Todd Gordon called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment on the team’s first pit stop before Keselowski restarted the race in the lead at lap 39.
Just after the restart, Keselowski moved to the top of the track in an effort to keep the No. 60 car of Carl Edwards at bay. While Edwards was able to make his way around the Discount Tire machine, Keselowski kept his car at the front of the field during the ensuing green-flag run. After visiting pit road under the green flag at lap 92, Keselowski was caught one lap down to the race leaders as the caution flag flew prior to the pit stops cycling through. Keselowski, however, was able to earn the “Lucky Dog” award to get back to lead-lap racing. He then proceeded to take advantage of the opportunity.
Following the pit stop, which included a left side wedge adjustment, Keselowski radioed that his car was running great from the center to the exit of the corners, but it still needed some help on corner entry. He was able to race his way back inside the top five by clicking off consistent lap times and showing determination to finish off the NNS season with a solid result. As the race entered its final 50-lap segment, Keselowski began turning the fastest laps on the track as he moved into the second position.
At lap 181, following a lap 180 restart, Keselowski reclaimed his spot at the front of the field. Racing in an all-NNS champions group at the front of the field, Keselowski was able to hold off Stenhouse Jr., and Edwards over the final laps to secure the victory.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished seventh in the Ford 300 on Saturday evening.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team ended the season ranked fifth in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“You couldn’t ask for a better way to end the season,” said Keselowski. “Not being able to win the championship, it’s good to be able to finish on a high note, winning the pole and the race today at Homestead. It’s a great exclamation point to the season for the whole Discount Tire Dodge team.”