Keselowski Finishes Third at Phoenix, Grabs Points Lead AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 9, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished third in the Bashas' Supermarket...
Keselowski Finishes Third at Phoenix, Grabs Points Lead
AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 9, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished third in the Bashas' Supermarket 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday. Keselowski has now finished in the top-five in five consecutive series races.
Friday marked the season's first one-day show for the Nationwide Series, which meant practice, qualifying and racing all occurred on the same day. Even thought it was a busy day for Keselowski, who also competes full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series, he still managed to find time to give each team maximum focus. This was evident as Keselowski posted the second-fastest time in the morning practice session. He toured the one-mile oval in 27.628 seconds, or 130.303 mph.
Knowing that race conditions would be similar to those of the morning practice, crew chief Paul Wolfe only made slight changes to adjust to different temperature and track conditions before the afternoon qualifying session. As a result, Keselowski gave up speed on his qualifying effort to ensure that he had a car that was fast in the race. He was still able to place his Discount Tire Dodge Charger third in the time trials with a lap of 27.565 seconds, or 130.600 mph.
Keselowski continued to lay down fast laps once the green flag fell to begin the race. He assumed the lead for the first time on lap 21. It was evident that his car preferred the "clean" air that being out front provided as he was the fastest on the track after the first 50 laps.
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger would remain inside the top-five cars throughout the entire race, but there would be plenty of excitement before the checkered flag was displayed. A lap 136 restart saw Keselowski line up in second-place beside the No. 18 car of race leader, Kyle Busch. Busch did not restart the race inside the designated restart box, allowing Keselowski to move around him. This also bunched up the field behind the two cars, resulting in a multi-car accident that triggered a caution before the cars completed a lap. Keselowski was awarded the top spot as NASCAR felt that the No. 18 did not properly restart the race. This would be Keselowski's second lead of the night.
As the laps wound down, Keselowski radioed to Wolfe that his chassis was too loose. As a result he relinquished the lead to the No. 20 car of Joey Logano. When the final caution of the day flew on lap 187, Keselowski and Wolfe immediately knew what adjustments to make to give the Penske Racing driver a shot at the win. Keselowski restarted the race in the third position on lap 192, but thanks to an exciting move to the inside of the No. 20, he was back in the lead for the third time on lap 194. However, he could not hold on as his chassis was still too loose. He lost two spots in the last five laps to finish third.
The finish moved Keselowski into the lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings for the first time in his career. He owns a four point lead over Carl Edwards in his attempt to win car owner Roger Penske his first NASCAR championship.
Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier finished 13th after a late-race incident on pit road.
"Everything went pretty well tonight," said Keselowski. "We did what we needed to do. We led laps. We were fast. We just needed a little more long-run speed. That's something to work on; we'll keep doing that and keep having successful runs like this. I'm really proud of my team, to have the point lead with a brand new team six races in the year. That's pretty cool. That's really special. I feel good about it. That's like a win in its own."
The No.22 Discount Tire Dodge Charger team will move slightly to the east to the Lone Star State for the O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.