|Will Kimmel, of Sellersburg, pounded the turn-four wall above David Stremme during the Feed The Children 300 Nationwide Series race Friday night. Kimmel walked away from the incident uninjured but never returned to the race. Photo by Wade Bell|
Keselowski gets 'Feed The Children' win
July 13, 2011Fuel mileage was the determining factor in the Feed The Children 300 on the Nationwide Series circuit Friday night at Kentucky Speedway as Brad Keselowski and crew chief Todd Gordon made all the right choices to cross the finish line first as others either came up short or barely made it to the finish.
Keselowski and Gordon made some early choices that proved to be a winning combination.
"Today, we pulled it together and ran a good race, great strategy," Keselowski said after the win. "Great fuel mileage; great pit stops."
"At the start of the race, we took an opportunity to take fuel," Gordon said. "We saw some stuff in the truck race (Friday) that we paid attention to what was going on. That worked out real well with scuffed tires. We needed to play the race backwards, which was something we talked about before the race started."
Sprint Cup regulars Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards led the race, in that order, through the first lap with Keselowski back in seventh position. Harvick moved up to lead on lap 10 on the front stretch of the tri-oval.
The leaders began to catch up to lapped traffic by the 15th lap and, by lap 25, Harvick's lead ballooned to 2.255 seconds.
The first caution of the night came when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. cut a tire and spun in turn four, causing a yellow which lasted four laps. When the race resumed, Harvick was still in front. He was followed by Edwards, Sadler and Keselowski, who had moved up to fourth.
The biggest incident came on lap 65 when Salem's Will Kimmel made a sudden right turn and spun in turn four. Kimmel pounded the outside wall, suffering severe damage to his Ford. Kimmel was not injured, but his car needed assistance getting off the track.
"We started getting real free through the center of (turn) three there, and I don't know what happened," Kimmel said. "I caught it once and didn't catch it the second time ... I was trying to make it to lap 200, and we came up short."
The field pit at that point and, when all were serviced, Keselowski was out in front of Harvick. Edwards followed in third with Kyle Busch fourth and Logano rounding out the top five.
At just over halfway, a third caution came out when Robert Richardson Jr. and Brian Scott collected each other in turn two. Another round of pit stops took place during that yellow, but Keselowski still owned the lead with no change in the first five. The restart lasted only briefly as another caution came when Morgan Shephard spun. When the race resumed, Keselowski continued to show his strength, racing to lead again by 2.603 seconds over Harvick.
A fifth caution came on lap 133 that lasted six laps. From that point came the guessing game and fuel strategy. With 15 laps to go, none of the leaders had come in for fuel. With 10 laps left, Keselowski's lead was 0.197 over Harvick, who was getting some confusing communications from his pit.
"They kept telling me I was six laps short and then, with about 10 laps to go, they told me I was two laps short," Harvick said. "I was not real happy with the way the race was managed. They told me to pit then stay out, so I was confused as you could imagine. I should have just done what I wanted to do. That would have been easier."
Keselowski's crew also wasn't sure if their driver would make it to the end.
"That last time we rolled off and we looked at the whole mileage number where he raced pretty conservatively, ... we showed ourselves running out on the backstretch," Gordon said. "I told Brad with five laps left to make sure, as the race unfolded, we save ourselves enough to get there."
Keselowski saved enough fuel to win by 1.180 seconds over Harvick.
"It's hard to know when you've got a race-winning car, especially when it transfers from day to night," Keselowski said. "I still didn't know once I got into clean air, and I said something to Tom about it. With clean air in this car, it was just phenomenal driving it. This car was really, really fast."
For Harvick, it was a frustrating night.
"We had a fast car all night," he said. "Brad was a little bit better than we were. Running him down, I knew I had to save some gas and have a caution."
Busch finished third with Kasey Kahne fourth and Sadler rounding out the top five. Edwards dropped back to eighth after having to make a late stop for fuel. Logano finished 10th.
Busch said he was also close to running out of fuel as well.
"We came across the start/finish line and the checkered flag losing fuel pressure," said Busch, who started from the back of the field after crashing his backup car during qualifications. "I imagine we were right close to running out. We made it back to pit road, but that might have just been enough to where we had enough in the fuel line or something like that. But essentially it was all out."
"We started off far behind after getting in trouble there qualifying and backing it into the wall," he said, "but the guys did a great job getting the back-up car out and putting it together."
1. Brad Keselowski Dodge 200 Running
2. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 200 Running
3. Kyle Busch Toyota 200 Running
4. Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 200 Running
5. Elliott Sadler Chevrolet 200 Running
6. Kenny Wallace Toyota 200 Running
7. Michael Annett Toyota 200 Running
8. Carl Edwards Ford 200 Running
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 200 Running
10. Joey Logano Toyota 200 Running
11. Trevor Bayne Ford 199 Running
12. Joe Nemechek Toyota 199 Running
13. Jason Leffler Chevrolet 199 Running
14. Mark Martin Chevrolet 199 Running
15. Brian Scott Toyota 199 Running
16. Mike Wallace Chevrolet 199 Running
17. Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 199 Running
18. David Reutimann Toyota 199 Running
19. Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 199 Running
20. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 198 Running
21. Steve Wallace Toyota 198 Running
22. Blake Koch* Dodge 198 Running
23. David Stremme Chevrolet 196 Running
24. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 196 Running
25. Derrike Cope Chevrolet 196 Running
26. Timmy Hill* Ford 195 Running
27. Eric McClure Chevrolet 194 Running
28. Charles Lewandoski* Chevrolet 193 Running
29. Kevin Lepage Chevrolet 193 Running
30. Jamie Dick Chevrolet 193 Running
31. Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 176 Running
32. Jennifer Jo Cobb* Dodge 169 Ignition
33. Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet 119 Accident
34. Morgan Shephard Chevrolet 104 Accident
35. Will Kimmel Ford 62 Accident
36. Scott Riggs Dodge 20 Overheating
37. Jeff Green Chevrolet 18 Vibration
38. Tim Andrews Chevrolet 11 Transmission
39. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 10 Ignition
40. Mike Harmon Chevrolet 7 Brakes
41. Chase Miller Chevrolet 3 Ignition
42. John Jackson Toyota 3 Electrical
43. Dennis Setzer Chevrolet 2 Brakes
Average speed: 138.408 mph
Time of race: 2 hrs., 10 mins., 3 secs.
Margin of victory: 1.180 seconds
Lead changes: 8 among 6 drivers
Cautions: 5 for 24 laps