Keselowski Battles to 15th Place Finish at Gateway with Ailing Truck Brad Keselowski started the Dodge Ram Tough 200 from the 25th starting position and nervous about the tight condition that he had felt in his K Automotive Ford throughout...
Keselowski Battles to 15th Place Finish at Gateway with Ailing Truck
Brad Keselowski started the Dodge Ram Tough 200 from the 25th starting position and nervous about the tight condition that he had felt in his K Automotive Ford throughout the morning practice sessions. With the team only able to make slight adjustments following the mandatory NASCAR impound procedure, Keselowski was concerned about the truck becoming tighter as the temperature dropped for the race. As the green flag waved, Keselowski worked his way through the 36-truck field and into the top-20 before the initial round of pit stops began with a couple early caution flags. When Keselowski came to pit road for fuel and adjustments, the team noticed a unique sound coming from the motor which was determined to be a problem in the cylinder head. Hoping to keep the motor in one piece, Keselowski continued battling to stay on the lead lap after not changing tires on his first round of pit stops. Understanding that pit strategy is a major key to success at Gateway International Raceway, the team elected to take fuel only and save their last set of sticker tires for the final pit stop of the race.
But as the event continued, Keselowski could feel his truck losing power to the other competitors specifically down the straighaways. To make matters worse, the tight condition that had concerned Keselowski during the morning practice sessions had become worse exiting the corners. On the team's final pit stop of the evening, crew chief Bob Keselowski put four sticker tires on and made some significant adjustments to the truck in order to allow for the best run possible to the checkered flag. Running consistently in the 17th position and leading the event three-quarters of the way through, Keselowski had to make the most of a truck with a wounded motor with a green-white-checker finish situation. When the field took the green flag with two laps remaining, Keselowski worked with another truck to get around two trucks on the final lap and earn the 15th place finishing position on the lead lap.
How did you struggle with your truck today?
We seemed to have a tight condition all through practice and even after some adjustments during the race, it never really went away. That was definitely a big problem all night because I was getting into the corners as good as or better than a lot of other trucks, but I would lose to them bad coming off the corners. Then we felt like we developed a header problem early in the event and that seemed to drain some of the power that we had down the straightaways. It was just one of those nights where we seemed to chase a problem from the very beginning. But we really had a good truck and I think we should have been able to get a top ten finish if we would have been able to avoid the motor issue.
How did you get around those two trucks on the last lap?
When we came down for the green-white-checker finish, I seemed to be able to get a really good run going into turn one and made it stick off turn two. When the truck ahead of me went to take position, I simply followed his through and almost got the 14th position away from Shane Hmiel at the start finish line, but he only got me by a couple inches.
Does this finish help with some forward momentum after some bad luck in the past two events?
I think it definitely helps to have a good run to help bring everybody back up, but at the same time we know that we had a better truck than where we ran here at Gateway. This does get us back on the right track for Mansfield in a couple weeks. Gateway is a really tough race track because the four corners are so different. So to leave here with a 15th place lead-lap finish is respectable and I am really excited about getting back to Mansfield and see about getting another top ten finish there.