Brad Keselowski won the 11th Annual Feed The Children race, part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night, his first win this season in the series he finished as champion last year.
It was a dominating performance from the no. 22 Discount Tire Dodge leading 132 of the 200 laps but ultimately won through Keselowski’s innate sense of driving for fuel mileage when it’s needed.
“I like to say it’s a special gauge we put in the car — I call it an assonometer,” Keselowski said. “It’s my ass. That’s my gauge.”
What turned out to be the final caution period ended on with a restart on lap 139 and there was no way the cars could run flat out for a full 61 laps to the finish. Most drivers went immediately in to fuel saving mode but none carried that out as well as Keselowski and he was helped by the propensity of some of the drivers in contention to shoot themselves in the foot.
Elliott Sadler who had been racing in the top ten for the first half of the race, in fact mostly in the top five, had to make an extra stop when it was discovered he had a track bar rubbing against his right rear tyre, a problem cured by judicious use of a hammer.
Reed Sorenson, who came in to the race as championship leader, was himself obliged to make an extra pit stop in order for his crew to retrieve an errant wedge adjusting wrench left poking out of the rear window of his car. He was to finish in seventeenth place, twelve spots behind Sadler, thus relinquishing the championship lead to him.
Second place finisher, Kevin Harvick, gave up any chance he had of challenging for the win when, with five laps to go, he was heading for the pits for fuel – based on information given to him over the radio – and was then told to keep going just as he was about to enter the pit lane. The time lost in slowing down was too much to recover before the race ended.
One driver expected to finish well, if not actually win the race, was Joey Logano. In his three visits here since 2008 Logano has started from pole position and won each time. Until Friday he pretty much was Mr Kentucky. But this time he was heading for, by his standards, a lowly fifth place when he run out of fuel on the last lap and drifted back to finish tenth.
Also running out of fuel was Logano’s teammate, Kyle Busch, but he managed to wait until he had crossed the line in third place, just ahead of Kasey Kahne. Busch had been forced to start from the rear of the field after he had backed his car into the wall during qualifying, forcing his crew to prepare the spare car.
Sadler leads Sorenson by just four points and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is twenty-three points further back. Justin Allgaier, who pitted for fuel just as the white flag lap was about to be started, dropped to nineteenth at the finish and remains fourth in the championship table forty-three points – that’s one full race win – behind the title leader.
The next race in the series is at New Hampshire next Saturday.