Saturday, May 26, 2012

Keselowski wins the History 300

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/HHP - Pool/Getty Images
Charlotte Motor Speedway is known to be a fast track, and it’s been described by Jeff Gordon to be a temperature-sensitive track. In the heat of Saturday's sunny afternoon, Brad Keselowski won his first Nationwide race this season, and it’s the second time he’s won here at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Choosing to stay out on the final caution put the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge in danger of running out of gas.

“We gambled, but I think it was a smart gamble,” Keselowski said. “Obviously it was a smart gamble; it paid off.” 

Joey Logano started the 31st Annual History 300 race on the pole with Austin Dillon, the fastest qualifying rookie, in second position. Logano led three times for 26 laps, finishing sixth, and Dillon's 11th place finish earned him the rookie of the race award. 

Is Danica Patrick one of NASCAR's best drivers? This was her third top-10 start in 11 races this season. However, she didn’t hold that spot very long. She fell out of the top ten early and never regained those positions. Patrick finished 13th in her second trip to Charlotte. Tomorrow she has another chance at improving her finishes, she will be racing in the Coca-Cola 600 for the first time.

Another highly talked-about driver in the Nationwide series this season is former X-Games superstar Travis Pastrana who started this weekend in 43rd position because he spun out during qualifying. In addition, the first and fourth cautions came out because he spun in Turn Four.  He never hit anything, though, and Pastrana managed to finish in 24th.

During that first caution, Denny Hamlin had problems with the carburetor on his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 car. Hamlin seemed to struggle from then on. Finishing in 2nd, Hamlin also looks towards tomorrow's Cup race.

The second caution came out not long after the first because Robert Richardson Jr. in the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet slammed into the wall on Turn One.

Perhaps it is a track where only the best do excel; Cup drivers dominated the race by Lap 30. Kevin Harvick took the lead on Lap 23 and led four times for 92 laps total, the most of any driver. Stenhouse was the only Nationwide regular in the top five but unfortunately his luck changed.

“I think the U-joint between the driveshaft and the transmission broke first,” said Stenhouse Jr. “It was a new driveshaft, new everything, so it was a tough day.” He finished in 26th position, though he managed to hold his points lead over Elliott Sadler, who despite finishing fifth remains 13 points behind Stenhouse Jr.

The third caution was called on Lap 54 for oil on the track, after the engine to the No. 00 car blew up. Angela Cope was in the driver’s seat today making her first start of the season for Keystone Motorsports.

On Lap 138, Jason Bowles and Josh Richards collided on the banking of Turn 1, bringing out the sixth caution. The No. 81 car of Bowles was severely damaged. The hood was destroyed, and black smoke filled the air.

As the saying goes, cautions breed cautions and not long after the race re-started, while running in the top ten, Brian Scott and Cole Whitt crashed in turn two, both cars badly damaged. The race went green from that point, though, and the No. 2 team's decision not to pit looked as if it might come back to haunt them, but Keselowski was able to milk 73 laps from the last tank of Sunoco fuel and gave Roger Penske what the Captain hopes will be the first of three wins this weekend.

Finishing order:
1    Brad Keselowski
2    Denny Hamlin
3    Kyle Busch
4    Kevin Harvick
5    Elliott Sadler
6    Joey Logano
7    James Buescher
8    Justin Allgaier
9    Sam Hornish, Jr.
10    Joey Coulter
11    Austin Dillon
12    Mike Bliss
13    Danica Patrick
14    Michael Annett
15    Mike Wallace
16    Reed Sorenson
17    Kasey Kahne
18    Jeremy Clements
19    Timmy Hill
20    Tayler Malsam
21    Casey Roderick
22    Johanna Long
23    Kyle Fowler
24    Travis Pastrana
25    Joey Gase
26    Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
27    Erik Darnell
28    Cole Whitt
29    Joe Nemechek
30    T.J. Bell
31    Brian Scott
32    Jeff Green
33    Jason Bowles
34    Josh Richards
35    Danny Efland
36    Angela Cope
37    Morgan Shepherd
38    Mike Harmon
39    Robert Richardson
40    Chase Miller
41    Josh Wise
42    Scott Speed
43    Kevin Lepage


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