Brad Keselowski Finishes 13th in Sprint Cup Race at
Michigan Int'l Speedway
Hornish Sixth, Keselowski 10th in Nationwide Race at
Jacques Villeneuve to Drive the No. 22 Dodge
Challenger at Road America
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES (NSCS)
The key for success in motorsports is controlling the
variables. Sprint Cup drivers found a smorgasbord to deal
with throughout the race weekend at Michigan International
Speedway. New track surface. New tires. Speeds in excess of
200 mph. Blistered tires. Rain. Each played a significant
Tires dominated the headlines throughout the weekend.
NASCAR even switched left-side tires late Friday evening due
to concerns about durability. The tires were blistering on
the new track surface. After evaluating the situation
following Thursday's extra practice day and Friday's
activities including qualifying where the pole speed was in
excess of 203 mph, NASCAR and Goodyear made the decision to
change to a different tire compound.
Teams were given a 75-minute practice session on
Saturday after the Nationwide race to dial in their race
cars. Some adapted rather quickly while others struggled all
the way through Sunday's 200-lap event.
Bring on the rain. The start of the race was delayed 90
minutes due to rain which washed away the rubber that had
been put down. That had teams a bit cautious going into turn
one when the green flag finally dropped to start the
Enter blistered tires. When the rubber did hit the
road, the two surfaces often refused to work in unison. Brad
Keselowski had a fast race car. He started 25th in the No. 2
Miller Lite Dodge Charger and had made it to the top 10 in
the first 43 laps. The drive to the front wasn't without
issue. A blistered right-rear tire forced the "Blue
Deuce" to pit road for a green-flag pit stop on Lap 106.
That left him a lap down to the leader.
A caution on Lap 120 opened the door for Keselowski to
get back on the lead lap. He took the wave around and
restarted 12th. He even lead the race with 75 miles remaining
but once the final pit cycles were complete, he fell back
outside the top 10. He finished 13th.
"We made a lot of progress from where the weekend
started and I think we were better than a 13th-place
car," Keselowski said. "We worked through some
things that were a bit of a struggle. I think all-in-all our
car was very respectable. We kind of fought some bad breaks
and I felt like we were probably a fifth to 10th-place car
and came home with a 13th. That's kind of been the story
of our last few weeks."
Crew chief Paul Wolfe says "it's all track
position at Michigan. Brad was able to move forward on some
runs which was encouraging. We never got the break to get the
track position back (following the blistered tire). We did
what we could and got a decent finish out of it."
After starting 20th, A.J. Allmendinger's day looked
promising. He was inside the top 10 by lap 33. A slow pit
stop during a competition caution on Lap 50 dropped the No.
22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger five positions to 13th but
bigger problems were ahead. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to
bring the No. 22 to pit road early in an attempt to correct a
handling issue. During the stop, the 22 was clipped by
another car. That wrinkled the right-rear quarter panel. A
couple trips to pit road gave the crew time to make repairs,
but he restarted 34th, a lap down. He battled back to finish
"We just had a tough day," said Allmendinger.
"We were really strong in the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge on
the first run but never could take advantage of good track
position. We're running on such a razors edge that
it's tough to describe what's going on with the car.
One run we get loose; the next we're tight. It's
confusing as heck to describe."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led 95 of the 200 laps to earn the
victory which broke a 143-race winless streak, the
sixth-longest stretch between wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup
history. His last career victory also came at Michigan, also
on Father's Day.
NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES (NNS)
Consistency has become a Sam Hornish Jr. trademark
since the Nationwide Series -season opener at Daytona. The
driver of the No. 12 Dodge Challenger has finished 13th or
better in the last 12 races. He was sixth in Saturday's
125-lap event on the new pavement at MIS, his sixth top 10 of
the season. Now, Hornish wants to turn the "Cs"
into "Ws" and continue to close the deficit in the
season point standings. He's currently fourth, 45 points
behind the leader.
"We had a really good Challenger," said
Hornish who led 25 laps in the race. "Our problem was we
could never get track position. We got it one time and then
we had to take four (tires)." That put the No. 12
Challenger back in the field in heavy traffic. Although
Hornish had a fast racecar, passing cars came at a cost -
"We could run the same times (as the leaders) back
in traffic but we'd burn up the right-front tire trying
to get around anybody," said Hornish. "We could run
up to 'em, get close to 'em, turn underneath 'em
but just couldn't complete the pass."
Brad Keselowski came up short in winning his third
NASCAR Nationwide Series race in his last four trips to his
hometown track (he grew up in Rochester Hills) but it
wasn't without a fight. Keselowski rebounded from two
extended pit stops after separate on-track incidents to
finish 10th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge
"We were a little off all around," said
Keselowski. "I think the handling of the car was the
strong suit. We just didn't really have the speed in it.
I missed some of the things I needed to do to execute the
race. But we did get something out it. I guess it could have
been a lot worse day."
The race was slowed by seven cautions for 26 laps. Joey
Logano held off James Buescher in a four-lap shootout to
claim his fifth victory in 11 Nationwide starts this
Villeneuve Back in No. 22 Dodge at Road America
The NASCAR Nationwide Series travels to Wisconsin next
weekend for a different challenge - road course racing.
Drivers will be turning both left and right on the 14-turn,
four-mile Road America course. Hornish will be joined by
Jacques Villeneuve in the second Penske car (No. 22
Challenger). It will be the French-Canadian driver's 12th
career Nationwide start. He led twice and finished third at
Road America last year in the No. 22 Dodge from Penske