Keselowski Earns Second Victory of 2009
Starting 11th, Brad Keselowski had the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet up to fifth by a lap-40 caution. The yellow-flag period gave the team its first opportunity to implement pit strategy, as a two-tire stop gave Keselowski his first lead of the race. He would lead the next 30 laps before losing the point during the second cycle of pit stops on lap 75.
It didn’t take long for Keselowski to make his way back to the front. By lap 81, he moved into second place behind Busch. By lap 105, Keselowski had reclaimed the lead. He led the next 40 laps before the caution was waved on lap 146. Not wanting to upset the car’s balance, the GoDaddy.com team took four tires while other teams had differing strategies of two tires and fuel only. Keselowski restarted in the fifth spot on lap 149 but again found himself on the tail of Busch, racing for the lead.
The two engaged in a spirited but clean battle, which would be the ongoing theme of the race. With Busch using the high line and Keselowski driving low, the two raced side-by-side around the .875-mile oval for three laps, with Keselowski unable to gain enough momentum off the turns to make the pass. Finally on Lap 188, the No. 88 GoDaddy.com Chevy kept a nose beneath Busch’s car, and the Hendrick horsepower enabled Keselowski to take the top spot.
With Keselowski driving away, the yellow flag waved for the 10th time on lap 213, an unwanted sight for the No. 88 team. Eury Sr. was faced with the difficult decision of pitting for tires or staying out for track position.
After much deliberation, the team decided to bank on the strength of their car, and Keselowski swerved away from the pit-road commitment cone to stay on track while all the other front-runners, including Busch, pitted for tires. With tires almost 40 laps older than his competitors, Keselowski restarted on lap 219 with the No. 18 of Busch hot on his tail with two fresh tires. Busch swiped the lead away from the No. 88 Chevy on lap 225.
The caution waved one final time on lap 236 for a wreck involving three cars in the top 10. When the green flag dropped on lap 240, Keselowski had only 10 laps to get around Busch. The GoDaddy.com Chevy worked the bottom groove of the track much better than the No. 18, and Keselowski, ever the strategic thinker, used that to his advantage. The two raced hard but clean, going side-by-side until Keselowski was able to wrestle the lead away for the final time on lap 242. Busch caught back up to him two laps later, but was unable to make the pass. Keselowski pulled away by four car lengths in front of an estimated 57,000 screaming fans and went on to take the checkers for his second victory of the season.
“It sure means a lot to win the first race here at Iowa Speedway,” Keselowski said from victory lane. “These fans were incredible welcoming us all here with open arms. I really hope they had a good time here this afternoon and enjoyed this racing. I know I did. A race like this just shows the strength of this GoDaddy.com team. We deliberated quite a bit on whether or not to come in on that last stop, but I trusted the knowledge and wisdom of my crew chief and I told him I’d support him in whatever choice he made. Turns out, it was the right one.”
WIN NOTES: Keselowski’s 121 laps led were by far the most this season, beating the 23 laps led at the Milwaukee Mile in June … This was the second highest total in his Nationwide Series career behind the 145 led at the Milwaukee Mile last season … The win marked somewhat of a home-court victory for GoDaddy.com, as the company has offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa … This was Keselowski’s second victory for GoDaddy.com, the first coming at Dover this season … Saturday’s win was Keselowski’s seventh top-five and 10th top-10 in the last 11 races … In seven Nationwide Series standalone events this season, Keselowski has six top-fives and an average finish of 2.6.