RICHMOND, VA. (April 27, 2012)– Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 16th in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Friday night. A former winner of this event, Keselowski and the No. 22 team could not find the handle on their Dodge throughout the event. However, they displayed a great attitude as they did not give up until the checkered flag.
Keselowski began the 250-lap race from the ninth position after posting a lap of 21.950 seconds, or 123.007 miles per hour, around the .75-mile oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. When the green flag waved to start the event, it was evident that Keselowski had his hands full with the Discount Tire machine. Keselowski radioed that he was too tight getting to the center of the RIR corners, with no rear grip on corner exit. Despite the handling condition, Keselowski exhibited no brake heat until lap 61, well past the time when many of the other competitors brake rotors were glowing red. This allowed him to gain valuable time on the leaders late in the run. A caution flag at lap 68 gave crew chief Jeremy Bullins an opportunity to make significant adjustments to the chassis, including track bar, wedge and air pressure changes. Keselowski restarted the race in the 15th position at lap 76.
As the race resumed, Keselowski quickly made his way towards the top 10 after commenting that the handling condition had improved slightly. He remained in the 11th position as the second caution of the day flew at lap 115. Bullins took this opportunity to make more aggressive track bar and wedge adjustments, in an effort to give his driver a car capable of racing towards the front. Keselowski restarted in the 14th position at lap 124.
The top groove would not work for Keselowski and he lost several spots on the restart as a result of being caught in that line. Once he settled into the 17th position, Keselowski again was able to show good long-run speed. However, he was not fast enough at the start of the run to capitalize on this advantage. Realizing that they needed to take a gamble for a chance at the win, Bullins kept his driver on track as the lead-lap cars began making their final pit stops, under the green flag, around lap 200. In doing this, Bullins and Keselowski were hoping for a caution flag that would allow them to pit without losing position. However, the race stayed green and Keselowski was forced to pit at lap 222 for four fresh Goodyear radials and fuel. He lost one lap to the race leaders and crossed the finish line in the 16th position.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished fifth in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 on Friday night.
Following Friday's result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are ranked ninth in the NNS owner point standings.
"We just missed it tonight with the Discount Tire Dodge," said Keselowski. "Not really sure where, but that's why there's 30-some of these races so you can keep plugging away and get ones where you get it right and win. I think we had really good cars at Texas and Vegas, and we had a shot at winning those races, but we just didn't finish out the day and we had a few issues. And then we come here and we don't have a very good car. We didn't have any issues; we just weren't good (smiles). That's just the way that racing works sometimes and we'll get it right."
Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, May 5, in the Aaron's 312. Coverage will air live beginning at 3:00 pm EST on the ABC network. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.