Engine Issues Result in 30th-Place Finish for Keselowski at Chicagoland
June 4, 2011
JOLIET, Ill. (June 4, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 30th in the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night. Keselowski appeared to have a car that was capable of finishing in the top-five before engine issues on lap 139 forced him to an early exit.
Persistent rain showers in the Chicago area canceled the Saturday afternoon qualifying session and the starting field was set according to the 2011 NASCAR rulebook. This meant that Keselowski started the event from the sixth position based on his final practice time from Friday evening. When the green flag flew on the race, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Todd Gordon that his car was loose-handling on the exit of the corners. A competition caution, which NASCAR instituted following the rain showers, gave Gordon and the No. 22 team an opportunity to make adjustments to the track bar and air pressure on the Discount Tire Dodge. A fast pit stop by the team saw Keselowski return to the track in the third spot – an improvement of two positions – at lap 31.
As the race resumed, Keselowski radioed that the loose-handling condition had improved and he immediately set his sights on the top spot in the running order. On lap 37, Keselowski was able to make his way around the race leader and he held the lead for the next seven laps. After relinquishing the lead, Keselowski settled into the second position, despite a handling condition that had continued to build to the free side. On lap 63, Gordon called for an adjustment to the wedge in the Discount Tire machine to tighten up the chassis for his driver. While this improved the car for the short run, Keselowski stated that he continued to fight a loose condition as the laps progressed.
On lap 110, Keselowski exclaimed that a vibration had developed in the right front area of the No. 22 Dodge. After staying on the racing surface to see if the issue improved, Keselowski decided he needed to visit pit road for four tires to alleviate the vibration while running in the fifth position. The “short pit” by the Discount Tire Dodge drew all of the leaders down pit road as well and, when the stops had cycled through, Keselowski found himself running in the third position.
Keselowski was able to keep his car running inside the top-five as the race approached the 150-lap mark. He was able to make up a lot of time in Turns 3 and 4, which gave the team confidence that he would be able to remain in position for a top finish. However, on lap 137, Keselowski radioed that he was losing power in the engine. Just a few laps later, on lap 140, the power plant expired, forcing Keselowski into the garage area for the remainder of the event. When the race ended, Keselowski was credited with a 30th-place finish.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team sit ninth in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“What a bummer for this Discount Tire Dodge team,” said Keselowski. “I’m not sure what exactly happened, the car just started to slow down. I thought at first that it might be an ignition box problem, but it’s something internal with the engine. It’s been one of (those) years where we’re catching some bad breaks. We had a great run last year and I’m still really proud of the guys that are working on this team. We’re fighting really hard and have Michigan coming up in a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll have a little bit more for them at my home track.”
Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will enjoy an off-weekend before visiting Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, June 18 for the Alliance Truck Parts 250. Live coverage will begin at 3:30 pm ET on the ABC network. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.