HAMPTON, Ga. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire/SKF Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished second in the NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) on Saturday night. The former series champion fought back from two laps down to secure a career-best finish at AMS.
Keselowski began the 200-lap race from the eighth position, based on his lap of 31.743 seconds, or 174.653 miles per hour, around the 1.54-mile oval. As the race began with two early caution periods, Keselowski wisely began to take care of his tires on the abrasive AMS surface. Once the race stayed green for several laps, he radioed that he was happy with the overall balance of the Discount Tire Dodge.
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called his driver down pit road at lap 49 – under the green flag – for a four tire stop that included fuel and an air pressure adjustment. However, Keselowski was issued a pit road speeding penalty by NASCAR as he returned to the racing surface. He was forced to serve a “pass through” penalty at lap 52, where he was caught speeding once again. This resulted in Keselowski having to perform a “stop and go” penalty at lap 57. These two incidents forced the team two laps down to the race leaders.
Never ones to throw in the towel, Keselowski and the Discount Tire Dodge team showed true determination as they set forth with a plan to return to the lead lap. As the leaders came down pit road under a lap 82 caution period, Bullins kept his driver on the racing surface to pick up a “wave around” that placed him only one lap down. After pitting for four fresh tires at lap 108, Keselowski began turning top-five lap times to put himself in position to pick up a “Lucky Dog” award to get back to lead-lap racing. A timely caution flag at lap 119 provided them with that opportunity, giving the team a shot at a victory.
Following a pit stop at lap 121, where Bullins placed 25-lap scuffed tires on the Discount Tire Dodge, Keselowski was again one of the fastest cars of the track. The race leaders began to pit with 25 laps to go, but Bullins kept his driver on the track, in hopes a caution would provide them an opportunity to maximize their night with a good finish. This proved to be a masterful stroke as a caution indeed came out at lap 183. Keselowski piloted his car to the attention of his crew for four fresh Goodyear radials. He restarted the race from the eighth position at lap 188. Over the final laps he was able to race to the back bumper of eventual race winner, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but needed one more circuit to be able to pull off the victory.
Penske Racing teammate Sam Hornish finished ninth in the NRA American Warrior 300 on Saturday night.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team remain sixth in the NNS owner point standings.
“I tried to make a move on Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) coming to the white and he blocked it so I figured I’d just give him a push,” said Keselowski. “He took that push and just ran with it and got in front of Kevin (Harvick). I couldn’t keep back up with him. Maybe if I had another lap but who knows. Ricky did a great job and congratulations to him and his team. Just a long day but proud of my Discount Tire Dodge team for recovering from being two laps down for speeding on pit road to come back with a decent day.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Richmond International Raceway on Friday, September 7, in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 with driver Ryan Blaney. Coverage will air live beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.