Keselowski Finishes Third at Darlington

 

Darlington Raceway lived up to its rugged reputation as the track “Too Tough To Tame” Saturday night.  The track played no favorites and in the end, pit strategy and a green-white-checkered finish determined the outcome of the 62nd edition of the Southern 500 with Regan Smith getting his first career victory.

 

Brad Keselowski drove his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T to his first top-five finish of the season and wheeled the “Blue Deuce” to a third-place finish on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval.  Patience, perseverance and some gun-slinger gambling was the recipe for success for Keselowski.

 

A self-proclaimed “15th-place” race car all night, Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe used late-race pit strategy and stayed on the track to gain nine positions as the leaders pitted during the race’s 10th caution on lap 359 of the scheduled 367-lap race.  With seven laps remaining, the two-car duo of Smith and Keselowski paced the field to green – each on older tires.  On lap 365 a three-car mishap behind the two leaders brought out the 11th-caution of the race that set the stage for the green-white-checkered shootout.

 

“A nice comeback for this Miller Lite Dodge tonight,” said Keselowski.  “We played the strategy card tonight.  That was our only shot.  It all worked out.  We had a shot late in the race and that’s cool.  The last restart, I was just trying to stay in my own lane and stay with Regan.  What a crazy finish.  I’m happy with the result, but not happy with the way we got it.  We want to earn them because we have fast racecars.  We’ve got some work to do to make our cars better.I knew that I could time a run on that last restart and give Regan a good push.  Carl (Edwards) was really fast behind me.  I ended up giving him (Regan) a huge push into Turn 1 and we hooked up and set sail.  I’m really happy for Regan.  I wanted to make sure that if I couldn’t win, he did.  A win for the underdogs tonight, that’s for sure.”

 

The third-place finish represents Keselowski’s highest finish since driving for Penske Racing.

 

After starting 10th, the Rochester Hills, Mich., native quickly found himself slipping backwards with handling issues,  Clean air was pivotal in handling and those who had it were fast.

 

By lap 165, Keselowski was a lap down in 23rd position, struggling to find the right pace.  Wolfe used a series of pit stops over the next 100 laps for adjustments and a pair of free passes to get back on the lead lap and up to 11th by lap 290.

 

“It was a great night for as tough a season that it’s been,” said Wolfe.  “We didn’t have the greatest car, but Brad hung in there and drove a great race.  We kept working on the Miller Lite Dodge and pit strategy just worked out for us.”

 


  • HEMIhead

    Thank God for Brad Keselowski! Kurt Busch has been having some real bad finishes lately. What the heck is going on with Kurt’s team is beyond me? All I know is, he’s about had enough of it! With that “Rant” on the radio at the Richmond race, it don’t give you a real warm, fuzzy feeling about what Penske is doing. Maybe his focus is more on IRL? They seem to be doing fine there. We won’t even talk about Robbie Gordon’s cars. Maybe Dodge can send a couple of their Engineers over there to help them all out? Since they are saving money on not having any merchandise or support haulers at the races. RLD, I’ll give you a heads up…It’s not enough to just be involved in Nascar, you have to be competitive too! Being pathetic on the track isn’t going to make anybody buy your vehicles, if that’s what your thinking.

  • http://www.diecastcrazy.com MoparBob

    @Hemihead
    100% agree.  Be in it to win it, or spend the money elsewhere…

  • tr4petty

    Absolutely correct, guys!  Get some more teams out there running Dodges so there are more Dodge-bodied cars to collect data from.  If you’re not going to put forth a REAL effort in Nascar, then get out of the sport and save face!  Brad even said himself that his car was about a 15th place car at Darlington;  he just got lucky with the late-race pit strategy in order to pull out that 3rd place finish.  Kurt was so far back in the field that the announcers never mentioned him.  I’ll be at the races in Charlotte next weekend.  We’ve got tickets to both the All-Star and the 600.  I sure hope that Kurt can pull out some wins like he did there last year but I’m not very hopeful because of the way things have been going for him since about race #5 of this year.  It seems that even the Nationwide races are making mincemeat of the Dodges this year.  Brad hasn’t won one race yet and Sam has only run a couple.  What happened to last year’s championship effort?  Letting Allgaier get away was a huge mistake.  He leads the points in his Chevy this year.  I’m just tired of being a frustrated, disappointed Nascar/Dodge fan!

  • HEMIhead

    Letting Allgaier go was a stupid mistake! Penske couldn’t find him sponsorship? That’s total B.S. to say the least. With a driver like that you’d find him a sponsor! Why keep Hornish? He’s a nice guy, but I don’t think he’s ever going to have a break through season. He’s not the driver Allgaier was either. Brad seems way off his game in Nationwide, and I don’t know what the problem is for Kurt and Brad in Cup? It’s like they never drove on any of the race tracks before? Those two drivers can perform! If they keep getting garbage race cars then they won’t be around for long. You don’t treat people that way, and you can’t expect any loyalty from them in the end. Now it’s time to get that team straightened out before it gets way too worse, and they can’t recover for the chase. Because the way it’s going there will be no Dodge’s in the chase this season. And don’t tell us your doing everything you can to make it work, because the truth really came out when Kurt ranted at Richmond. Nobody is listening to him! 
    Be in it 100% or get out and save face! It’s a pathetic effort.

  • tr4petty

    Yeh, Dodge and Ram, get into Nascar with the support needed to win races or get out and stop embarassing your followers!  ONLY ONE team (Penske) in the most popular motorsport in the U.S. with only two cars, ONLY ONE full time car in Nationwide with a driver that doesn’t earn points, and ONLY ONE very lightly supported Ram in the Camping World Truck series is pathetic!  Without more Dodges and Rams out there to compare notes with, collect data from, and buddy-up with on the track, your Nascar effort is embarassing your fans more than anything else!  And Penske is a poor choice of basket to put all your eggs into also.  Roger Penske has never been loyal to any brand and he is not loyal to Dodge.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Dodge/Ram had some team owners like Roush, Childress, Hendrick, or the Wood brothers who are loyal and swear allegiance to their respective manufacturer?  From a fan’s perspective, I can tell you that it would be WONDERFUL if we had some drivers and team owners who were dedicated MOPAR folks.  Richard Petty could have been one of those but you dumped him in favor of a guy that has never shown loyalty to any brand.  In fact, this year he gave the points from the #77 to a Toyota team, so they could be on the track as added competition against his two Dodges!  Kasey Kahne was a loyal Dodge supporter but when he was shopping for a new ride, Roger Penske didn’t even try to recruit him, so he went to a Chevy Team.  I can’t think of a single driver or team owner in Nascar that has any loyalty to Dodge or Ram other than Brad Keselowski and I’m not sure how loyal to the brand he is but I know that his family has been pretty loyal Mopar guys for most of their racing careers.  Of course, that loyalty has been pretty one-sided, because when Brad’s Dad, Bob, ran a Dodge truck, sponsored by Mopar,  Mopar decided to pull their support from him and gave it to Jim Smith who soon left Mopar for Ford and then Toyota before getting out of the sport.  Listen, DODGE MOTORSPORTS:  If you want to build a fan base in motorsports, Nascar IS the PLACE to be, but you’ve GOT to put a substantial effort into it AND you’ve got to foster some loyalty in the owner and driver ranks so that us fans have some Nascar heros that we can get excited about cheering for.  Right now, I can think of only one team owner out there that could give DODGE back it’s lost fans loyal drivers and that is RICHARD PETTY, the “KING” of Nascar!  JUST DO IT!!!!!!

  • RobbieinVA

    Keep your fingers crossed on that Petty reunion.  I heard a couple weeks ago that if Dodge shows commitment RP will definitely come back home at some point, but Dodge has to show they are all in to make it happen.  2012 will be the key I was told.  In all honesty tho, the way KB and BK have ran the last month it looks like anything but commitment.  Maybe now that Chrysler is square with the taxpayers more money can go into the effort.

    Robbie

  • tr4petty

    I hope you’re right, Robbie.  If Richard Petty Motorsports comes back to DODGE, I will throw the biggest party I’ve ever thrown in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    But, to be honest, as long as Ralph Gilles is in charge, I don’t expect to see anything from Dodge Motorsports, other than things like Viper Cup (yawn) racing or sponsoring a Kawasaki motorcycle racing team ( I don’t know how that is supposed to sell Dodges).