By admin | June 7, 2008
By Richard Allen
Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at Nashville Super Speedway provided an opportunity for drivers who have had to live in the shadow of Sprint Cup regulars who frequently invade the lower series to show off their abilities. With the Sprint Cup Series racing in Pocono, only seven Cup drivers made the trek to middle Tennessee for the Federated Auto Parts 300.
JR Motorsports’ driver Brad Keselowski took full advantage of that opportunity but it was not without a few bumps along the way.
During the race’s second caution period Keselowski’s crew chief, Tony Eury, Sr., instructed his young driver to hit pit road. Keselowski mistakenly changed the plan.
“You need to pay attention,” Eury scolded. “When you see the whole field coming in you need to come with ‘em.”
Keselowski had other ideas. “To be honest,” he countered. “I think this is for the best. I need to be on a different sequence. It’s the only way I can win.”
Whether intended or not, the driver’s strategy ultimately paid off. It was a different strategy that allowed him to have fresher tires and enough fuel in his tank that he did not have to conserve at the end of the race. His first win on the Nationwide Series was the result.
In the race’s early laps it was another emerging star who was getting the attention. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Joey Logano started from the pole and dominated the first segment of the race. However, he pitted when Keselowski did not and that led to trouble for the heralded 18 year old. With differing strategies playing out Logano found himself back in the pack. A bit later he found himself hitting the wall on lap 88 after contact with Cup stars Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.
With 42 laps to go the race’s defining moment occurred. Bobby Hamilton, Jr. crashed after blowing a right front tire. Keselowski brought his #88 car down pit road for fresh tires and a full tank of gas. Others, who were cutting it close on fuel, opted to stay out to maintain track position.
After the restart Keselowski began cutting through the field but it appeared as though he would not be able to catch leader David Reutimann. However, the race’s 10th caution flag with twelve laps to go took care of that.
After a single file restart with eight laps remaining Keselowski’s fresh tires and full tank allowed him to pass by Clint Bowyer and Reutimann.
The #88 car would not be challenged over the final few laps allowing the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. owned team to cruise to the win.
*Click here to see highlights of Joey Logano’s crash* http://youtube.com/watch?v=9CJORrZWqwQ
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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