|Brad Keselowski Celebrates his NASCAR Nationwide Win at Kentucky Speedway|
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Keselowski Takes Kentucky Nationwide Race on Fumes
For once, someone did something to slow the Kyle Busch freight train in one of NASCAR's junior series as Penske driver Brad Keselowski milked his fuel better than everyone else to win the Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway. It was the 11th time the Nationwide Series has raced at Kentucky Speedway, but the first time as part of the undercard for a Sprint Cup weekend here. For most of the race, the battle at the front was between Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as they 188 of the 200 laps between them and really had the rest of the field covered most of the night. I was in Keselowski's pit the last 30 laps, certain that he would need to make a late stop for fuel but he never did, and there was never any indication from his Penske crew that he intended to visit pit lane again. You could clearly hear him lifting off the throttle much sooner than usual going into Turn 1 those last laps and once Harvick slowed dramatically to get to the finish, Keselowski had the race in the bag.
It was a sweltering night in Kentucky and even the last rain shower that interrupted the Sprint Cup qualifying did not offer much relief for the Nationwide teams during the race. Kyle Busch ended up third ahead of Kasey Kahne and pole sitter Elliot Sadler. Kenny Wallace was the first of the Nationwide "regulars" in sixth place followed by Michael Annett. There were no serious incidents during the race the comeback award has to go to Ricky Stenhouse who spun in front of me in Turn 4 without contact and managed to finish on the lead lap in ninth. Only the top 10 were on the lead lap at the finish in what turned out to be a fuel management race. Let's hope the Sprint Cup race today is a little racier, as judging from the frantic work in their garage area yesterday, there's a big emphasis on winning tonight on this bumpy Kentucky asphalt.
The biggest disappointment for me on the night was seeing (and shooting) Will Kimmel, son of ARCA legend Frank Kimmel, spin and crash out of his first Nationwide race after only 62 laps. We have seen Will run many times at Salem Speedway over the years and I was hoping he would be able to muster a good finish for the southern Indiana contingent in the stands. The funniest thing I saw was little Mark Martin talking with former NBA player and current television race commentator Brad Daugherty on pit lane prior to qualifying; the contrast in their heights made for quite a visual. For now, I am working in the media center but space is at a premium here and I don't know if I will be able to work from here the rest of the day. I did not have Victory Lane access for the Nationwide race, nor will I have it for Sprint Cup, so I will be back with more pictures of race action and personalities as soon as I can. Until then, here's a slideshow from the Nationwide race.