CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 18th in the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday night. After leading a total of 52 laps on the night, it looked as though Keselowski would sweep both races at CMS in 2012, but a miscue on the final pit stop resulted in him running out of fuel at lap 196, ending his bid for a victory.
Keselowski began the 200-lap race from the ninth position, based on his lap of 29.768 seconds, or 181.403 miles per hour, around the 1.5-mile oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. The race itself got off to a slow start as a caution period on the first lap, due to a blown engine, resulted in a lengthy cleanup process. The race resumed at lap 11 with Keselowski running in the 10th position. Another quick caution period occurred at lap 13, with Keselowski having advanced to the sixth position in two laps. He radioed crew chief Jeremy Bullins that he was happy with the handling of his Discount Tire machine as the race got back underway at lap 16.
Once the event settled into a green-flag run, Keselowski noted that his car had built tight in the center of the corners. However, he was able to work his way through the field – eventually taking the lead for one lap at lap 55 – before coming down pit road under the green flag for his first pit stop of the night. Bullins called for a four-tire pit stop that included an air pressure adjustment to the right-front tire to alleviate the tight-handling condition. When the pit stops had cycled through at lap 62, Keselowski was scored in the second position.
The Michigan native wasted little time in getting back to the front of the field as he assumed the top spot again at lap 73. He radioed to Bullins that he was no longer tight in the center as he began to put down some very fast lap times. The first yellow-flag pit stop of the night for the Discount Tire team came at lap 84, with Keselowski still in the race lead. Following a four-tire and fuel stop Keselowski returned to the track in the third position, having been beaten off pit road by two competitors that elected to do two-tire stops.
The strength of the Penske Racing entry was once again evident as Keselowski returned to the race lead at lap 101. However, at lap 116, he radioed that his fuel pressure began rising. It was observed that he had a piece of heavy-duty tape on the grille opening, forcing him to keep one eye on the pressure gauge until the next round of pit stops. A yellow flag at lap 132 gave the team an opportunity to pull tape from the grille, but the untimely caution did not put them in a fuel window to make it to the end. This situation would play a role in the outcome for Keselowski as the racing action resumed at lap 137 with the Discount Tire Dodge scored in the fifth position.
After working his way up to the second position at lap 163 Keselowski, along with several other competitors at the front of the field, began making their final stops of the night for a precious few seconds worth of fuel. Unfortunately, when Keselowski brought his car down pit road at lap 190, no fuel was dispensed into the tank. This resulted in him running out of fuel at lap 196 which caused him to finish the race in the 18th position, two laps down to race winner Joey Logano.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish finished 35th in the Dollar General 300 on Friday night.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team remain seventh in the NNS owner point standings.
“We were very fast,” said Keselowski. “We certainly had a car to win with the Discount Tire Dodge. Discount Tire does tires, not gas so they’ve got that part right (smiles). Just didn’t have any gas there at the end and they won’t run without that. We win and lose as a team.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, October 20, in the Kansas Lottery 300 with driver Ryan Blaney. Coverage will air live beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90