Published on May 30th, 2012 | by NASCAR Wire Service0
Keselowski Saves Fuel To Win Charlotte N’Wide Race
The victory was Keselowski’s first in the series this year and the 18th of his career. Hamlin crossed the finish line .838 seconds behind the 2010 Nationwide champion. Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler.
Busch said after the race that coaxing 73 laps out of his fuel cell would not have been a possibility. Though Keselowski declined to say how he saved enough gas, he did point to a fuel-economy advantage for this No. 22 Penske Dodge.
“The Dodge has been known for having a bit of a fuel-mileage advantage over the last season and a half,” Keselowski said. “I think there’s other areas where we’re slightly behind, being quite honest. And so, when you have an opportunity to maximize your advantage, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Keselowski pulled away after caution for an accident off Turn 2 on Lap 147 of 200, when Brian Scott and Cole Whitt hit a patch of oil and slammed into the inside wall. The victory was the first in the series for Keselowski’s crew chief, Jeremy Bullins.
Pole-sitter Joey Logano took four tires during a pit stop on Lap 144, dropped from third to 15th when the rest of the contenders stopped for fuel only and came home sixth.
A broken driveshaft on Lap 66 sidelined series leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who spent 22 laps in the garage for repairs. Stenhouse finished 26th but retained his lead by 13 points over Sadler, with Austin Dillon (11th Saturday) in third place, 28 points back.
Danica Patrick finished 13th, despite falling a lap down when an early cycle of pit stops was interrupted by the third caution of the race — a blown engine in Angela Cope’s Chevrolet.
Hamlin likewise dropped a lap early when his crew changed the carburetor on his No. 18 Toyota on pit road. Though Hamlin didn’t think his car ever achieved sufficient straight-line speed, he was able to drive to the front after regaining the lost circuit as the highest-scored lapped car under caution for Travis Pastrana’s spin off Turn 4 on Lap 60.
“I complained about the motor early — just didn’t feel like it ran at the end of the straightaway for some odd reason,” Hamlin said. “I’ve been wondering where our speed was all weekend. We tried to change the carburetors, and that didn’t fix it. Just got stuck 14th or so for a while until we got the handling (where) it was at least drivable, and then we were able to make our move to the front.
“We were good on long runs — just didn’t have a lot of front-line speed. I have to get better at our race-day adjustments. I just feel like I’m sending our crew chief off in the wrong direction at the start of these races.”
Pastrana looped his No. 99 Toyota twice during the race after spinning on his qualifying lap and failing to post a time. The X-Games star finished 24th, five laps down.
The No. 41 Ford driven by 19th-place finisher Timmy Hill failed height-stick inspection after the race. The car was deemed too low in front. If NASCAR imposes penalties, they will come next week.