Keselowski Finishes Seventh in Discount Tire Dodge at Atlanta Motor Speedway
September 4, 2011HAMPTON, Ga. (September 3, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished seventh in the Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) on Saturday night. The event was the first race back in the Discount Tire Dodge for the reigning NNS champion after a testing accident at Road Atlanta early last month.
Keselowski began the 195-lap race from the second position after posting a lap of 31.133 seconds, or 178.075 miles per hour, during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. After the green flag flew to begin the race, Keselowski immediately picked up a piece of debris on the front grill opening of the No. 22 car, which caused the water temperatures in the engine to gradually climb. Keselowski was able to use the rear bumper of the No. 6 car, driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., to remove the debris. Once this was accomplished, Keselowski turned his attention to the balance of the Discount Tire Dodge.
The AMS track provides many racing lines and Keselowski immediately jumped to the “high” line when the green flag flew. As the Discount Tire Dodge developed a tight-handling condition over the course of the initial run, Keselowski moved back down to the bottom of the racing surface. A lap 42 caution period gave crew chief Todd Gordon a chance to make track bar and air pressure adjustments to help his driver maneuver around the high-speed AMS corners. Keselowski returned to the track in the third position on lap 47.
As the race resumed, Keselowski radioed that the handling of the Discount Tire Dodge had improved, but he still needed it to turn better in the center of the corners. Gordon continued to make air pressure adjustments, but nothing seemed to alleviate the problem. Despite the handling condition, Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top five as the race moved past the halfway point.
During a lap 123 pit stop, Gordon called for a wedge adjustment that swung the car from tight- to a loose-handling condition. As Keselowski restarted the race in the seventh position at lap 132, he was not able to make his way back inside the top five and he settled into the eighth position until a caution flag at lap 163 gave the team one final opportunity to make adjustments that would get them to the end of the race. Gordon decided to reverse the wedge adjustment made at lap 123 and Keselowski returned to the track in the eighth position at lap 169. Keselowski – who made a masterful save of his Discount Tire machine on lap 179 as the No. 11 car of Brian Scott took the air off his spoiler exiting the corner – was able to fight his way to the seventh position before crossing the finish line.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are ranked seventh in the Nationwide Series owner point standings.
“It felt good to be back out there,” said Keselowski. “Certainly would like to get a little bit better finish. I didn’t quite get it done there at the end of the race. I’ve got no one to blame but myself. We still just need to find a little bit more speed in these cars but there not far off for sure and (we’ll) keep plugging away with it with the Discount Tire team.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will visit Richmond International Raceway on Friday, September 9 for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Live coverage will begin at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN2. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
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