SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), scored his third win of the season in the inaugural Indianapolis 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Saturday afternoon. The win is Keselowski’s 20th career NNS victory and his second-consecutive series win.
It was a historic win on many fronts. By crossing the yard of bricks first, Keselowski scored the first NASCAR victory for team owner, Roger Penske, at IMS. Penske Racing has enjoyed 15 wins in the Indianapolis 500 in the IZOD IndyCar Series. It was also the 100th NASCAR victory for Penske Racing.
Keselowski began the 100-lap race from the eighth position, based on his lap of 51.465 seconds, or 178.876 miles per hour, around the flat, 2.5-mile oval. The race began with Keselowski very happy with the balance of the Discount Tire machine, remarking that it was a “rocket” at lap three. He radioed to crew chief Jeremy Bullins that he wouldn’t make any adjustments under the NASCAR-mandated competition caution at lap 15. Bullins obliged, electing to add fuel and change two tires under the subsequent pit stop. Keselowski restarted the race from the third position at lap 22.
On the 24th lap around the historic circuit, Keselowski grabbed the lead for the first time on the day. He would eventually surrender it back to the No. 54 of Kyle Busch after stating that he was now too loose, especially on entry in Turn 1. Bullins, on a pre-determined strategy, called his driver down pit road at lap 37 for a pit stop that consisted of fuel, four tires, and track bar and air pressure adjustments. Prior to the rest of the field completing their stops, a caution flag flew over the racetrack. However, Keselowski was on the lead lap when this happened and promptly made his way up to the second position, after the rest of the field came to pit road, when the race resumed at lap 48.
As the race resumed, Keselowski radioed to Bullins that he was a touch too tight getting to the center of the corner, while needing some stability on corner exit. Despite this, he was still able to keep his Dodge in the top-two cars in the running order. On the final pit stop of the day, at lap 64, Bullins called for another stop of fuel, four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Keselowski restarted the race in the fifth position at lap 68, but he found himself racing competitors that had elected to take only two tires on the previous stop.
Keselowski assumed the lead for the final time at lap 73. He would continue to hold the top stop during a lap 79 restart when Elliot Sadler was black-flagged for jumping the restart and passing Keselowski on the initial lap. Keselowski settled into second-place, patiently allowing NASCAR to make their ruling. Once Sadler served his penalty, Keselowski was able to easily cruise to his second-consecutive win in Indianapolis, his first coming in the final race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park last season.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish finished second in the Indianapolis 250 on Saturday afternoon to give Penske Racing its third one-two finish in NNS competition.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are ranked sixth in the NNS owner point standings.
“This is the 100th win for Roger Penske in NASCAR so that’s really special for him,” said Keselowski. “I’m glad to be able to be the guy that delivered. It wasn’t easy. Kyle Busch was really, really fast. He had a great car. I think that he was just a little bit stronger than us and I thought that it was going to come down to who got through the traffic better. The guys on the Discount Tire Dodge delivered an awesome pit stop on the final one and we beat them off. Then it was just me being disciplined, smart enough to get through traffic in one piece, take the lead and take it from there.”
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will next compete at Iowa Speedway, with driver Ryan Blaney, on Saturday, August 4, in the US Cellular 250 presented by Enlist Weed Control Systems. Coverage will air live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.