NNS: Brad Keselowski uses strategy to win History 300

May 26, 2012 No Comments

Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

It is one of the biggest race weekends of the year, and for Brad Keselowski and his Penske team they have claimed the first victory.

With the shadow of the Indianapolis 500 and the longest Sprint Cup series race, the Coca-Cola 600 looming over the weekend, the History 300 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series took center stage on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As the History 300 started to write its self into the history books, it was Keselowski that emerged victorious after he and his team made the decision to not pit after they had taken the lead from Kasey Kahne a few laps after a restart when there were over 67 laps remaining in the event.

“It just a question of who is going to pit and make it to the end,” Keselowski said after the race. “It was a good gamble. It’s good to get the monkey off the team’s back.”

It was a gamble, and several times the driver and the crew chief weren’t sure that they would have enough fuel to make it to the end, but when the checkered flag flew, it was Keselowski that was able to grab his first Nationwide series win on 2012. It is also the first time that a Penske Racing Dodge has been found in victory lane in the Nationwide series this year.

“There is a strategy to [saving fuel] you know these Penske engines do save fuel,” Keselowski said after the race to ABC reporters in victory lane.

With the win today Penske is set to possibly make history this weekend by becoming the first team to sweep the weekend races, as there will be Penske drivers in both the 500 and 600 tomorrow, including Keselowski who will try and find victory lane again Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600.

“We have three shots at winning races this weekend,” Keselowski said. “I feel like we got a great shot tomorrow to get 2 out of 3.”

Winning on Memorial Day weekend, even if it is on Saturday still means something special to Keselowski.

“This is probably the biggest win of my career,” Keselowski said after the race. “You gotta be optimistic and believe in your program.”

With the laps and fuel supply running down, Keselowski was pushed the final five laps by eventual second place driver Denny Hamlin. Hamlin passed Kyle Busch to move into second position, but he was never able to run down Keselowski in the closing laps of the race.

Much of the first half of the race was dominated by Kevin Harvick. Harvick grabbed an early lead and led until just over halfway when a caution bunched up the field and Kane and Keselowski were able to drive past Harvick.

After that, the race turned into more strategy than racing. Keselowski had a chance to pull down the pits and get the assurance of fuel, but he and Kahne stayed out. Kahne was eventually overtaken, but Keselowski never gave up the lead. Although crew chief Jeremy Bullins wasn’t sure they would make it.

“If Jeremy says were going to make it, then I’m going to make it til he proves me wrong,” Keselowski said.

This was the first NASCAR win for crew chief Bullins.

“That was probably the longest 73 laps of my racing career,” Bullins said after the race to ABC reporters.

In the points battle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who entered the race with a 34 point advantage over Elliott Sadler took a hit. Stenhouse Jr. ran over something on the track and that cause his drivetrain to detach from the car. Stenhouse and crew were able to make repairs to the car and got him back out on track, but Sadler avoided problems and was able to finish in fifth.

Although he had problems, Stenhouse still leads the points by 13 over Sadler.

Rounding out the top five today were,  Busch in third and Harvick in fourth.

Next week the Nationwide Series will be at the one-mile Dover track in Dover, Delaware.

Race Results:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Elliott Sadler
  6. Joey Logano
  7. James Buescher
  8. Justin Allgaier
  9. Sam Hornish Jr.
  10. Joey Coulter
  11. Austin Dillon
  12. Mike Bliss
  13. Danica Patrick
  14. Michael Annett
  15. Mike Wallace
  16. Reed Sorenson
  17. Kasey Kahne
  18. Jeremy Clements
  19. Timmy Hill
  20. Tayler Malsam
  21. Casey Roderick
  22. Johanna Long
  23. Kyle Fowler
  24. Travis Pastrana
  25. Joey Gase
  26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  27. Erik Darnell
  28. Cole Whitt
  29. Joe Nemechek
  30. T.J. Bell
  31. Brian Scott
  32. Jeff Green
  33. Jason Bowles
  34. Josh Richards
  35. Danny Efland
  36. Angela Cope
  37. Morgan Shepherd
  38. Mike Harmon
  39. Robert Richardson Jr.
  40. Chase Miller
  41. Josh Wise
  42. Scott Speed
  43. Kevin Lepage
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