Broken ankle and all Brad Kesolowski is on a tear.Ã‚Â Winning his third race of the season, and the second since he broke his ankle, Kesolowski raced his way to the winners circle in Bristol last Saturday night.Ã‚Â He used every trick in his arsenal to get there too.Ã‚Â By taking advantage of the timing loops on pit road Brad was able to pass several cars every pit stop by drag racing from his pit up to 60 mph and then slowing before the timing loop back to the pit road speed of 35 mph therefore not incurring any speeding penalties on pit road.
A quick look at the standings from only 4 weeks ago showed Kesolowski in 21st with a single win and definitely not looking good to make the chase.Ã‚Â Yet here we are with only 2 races to go before the Chase and Brad Kesolowski has gainedÃ‚Â 10 positions up to 11th and 2 wins to bring his season total to 3, all of which put him in contention for a wild card, and if he keeps this level of performance up, and good chance to drive his way into the chase and knock Tony Stewart out of the running.
”An awesome car, an awesome team!” he yelled. ”Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt won this race. It’s a race of champions. There are races that pay more, that are races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all.”
Asked what the secret of his turnaround is, he had this to say:
”A team that just starts to click and believes in each other,” Keselowski said. ”We’ve just made good adjustments to our cars over the last few months. We made good adjustments to our car today and we find ourselves in Victory Lane. I can’t believe it, I really can’t.”
Martin Truex Jr. battled his way up to a second place finish showing that he still has the desire to go out there and get the win, right up to the end.
“It was back in ’07 — the last time I run second or won, you know?” Truex said. “It’s a helluva good feeling when you can see the leader at the end of one of these things. You know you’re in the ballpark and you got something for ’em.
“It feels good to be finishing up front — it’s been a while. We’ve had some good races here lately — fourth at [Watkins] Glen — so trying to build a little bit of momentum here towards the end of the year.
“The guys on the NAPA Toyota have been working really, really hard — all the buys at the shop, working hard on our stuff and just got to thank them for sticking with it and working hard.”
Jeff Gordon however led the most laps of the night (206) and was seemingly the dominant car on the track, but things just did not go his way at the end resulting in a third place finish at Bristol.Ã‚Â Crew Chief Alan Gustafson feels like they have been robbed of a win a few times this season now.
“Robbed at Indy, and robbed here. Yeah, I’m tired of it,” Gustafson said after Gordon led 206 laps but finished third in an event won by Brad Keselowski. “They did what they had to do to win. Our pit box, guys held us up, and guys would gas it up and pass us. It’s frustrating. But we’ve got the performance, and this team can perform at a high level, and the breaks are going to go their way for only so long. And the day it doesn’t, well be OK.”
Gordon himself felt taht the drag racing style of pit road action was the biggest cause of lost position in the pits.
“To me, the whole purpose of having timing lines and pit road speed is to make it as equal and fair for everybody as you possibly can. And they’ve got some work to do at this pit road. The race track is awesome, but the pit road is terrible. When a guy can run 60 miles an hour down pit road and the pit road speed is, what, 35, then something is wrong with the system,” Gordon said.
“We were able to do something similar to that on the back straightaway, so I don’t really feel like that’s what cost us [Saturday night]. I did have a couple cars coming down pit road that were going slow when I left my pit stall that held me up a little bit, but we qualified good, so we had one of those stalls. But even when you have one and you see the other guys have one, it’s a joke that somebody can leave pit road and run that fast down pit road and then slam on the brakes. [Matt] Kenseth drove by four cars, and so did [Keselowski] when he left his pit stall. I just don’t understand it. But that is the way that it is here, and it puts a huge premium on the pit stall and qualifying up front.”
“It’s been a while, man — it’s been a while,” Gordon said. “But I just love having a race car like we had [Saturday] night. We had so much fun, but we just needed not to be in fifth on that last restart. We needed to either be in the outside lane or a little bit further forward, and we had something for anybody.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Tony Stewart are still the last men standing in chase contention without a win this season.Ã‚Â Sitting 9th and 10th in points respectively they are still on the bubble for chase contention.Ã‚Â Stewart was rather vocal about his chances of making the chase after last weeks race in Michigan saying that his team was just taking up space for a team that could actually make a run at the championship, while his equipment just isn’t good enough right now to get him there.Ã‚Â Earnhardt Jr, however managed to stay up in the field, finishing 16th and thanks to Stewart (28th) and Bowyer’s (26th) poor results at Bristol has padded his lead on them and has a firm grip on 9th place in the standings.
Danica Patrick made it official this weekend that she will be moving to NASCAR full time in for the 2012 season.Ã‚Â Running a full schedule for Jr. Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as a limited schedule in the Sprint Cup side for Stewart-Haas racing, owned by Tony Stewart.Ã‚Â Her performance this year shows a drastic improvement over her limited run in 2010, now that she seems to have shaken off the fact that these cars can touch, and often do, unlike the open wheelers she has driven for most of her career.
“If it was about money, I’d have gone a long time ago,” Patrick said from GoDaddy’s offices in north Scottsdale. “I just go where my heart tells me, where my gut tells me to go, where I’m enjoying my life the most, where I feel like I can have the most success. I’ve truly enjoyed my experience in NASCAR, to the point that I want to do it full-time.”
Brian France also seems pleased that Danica is making the move to NASCAR.
“We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said in a statement. “She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports on a week-to-week basis. Danica has shown solid improvement in NASCAR and we believe her decision to run full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with additional races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be exciting for our fans and a great challenge for her.”
What does her leaving Indy Cars mean to the declining ratings for that series?Ã‚Â Only time will tell.Ã‚Â But for now she sill belong to NASCAR, and her marketing machine will do wonders in the world of circle racing.