By Patrick Rall
Even though Brad Keselowski ran towards the front during the
majority of the 2012 Daytona 500, a late race wreck knocked him back to 32nd
place, and the other two Dodge Chargers in the big race finished behind
him. It was a disappointing Daytona 500
for Team Dodge, but things would go much better for the Dodge drivers in Phoenix–both in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
In Saturday’s Bashas’ Supermarkets 200, Brad Keselowski
started 7th in his #22 Discount Tire sponsored Dodge Challenger and
by the end of the race, he had worked his way up to a 2nd place
finish. This was Keselowski’s 2nd
2nd of the year in two races but his finishes have to impact on the
season standings, as he is not in the running for the Nationwide championshp. His teammate, Sam Hornish Jr. started 6th
and finished 6th in his #12 Alliance Truck Parts backed Dodge
Challenger (shown above) – moving him to 6th (up 4 spots) in the
season standings, 26 points out of 1st place.
There were two other Dodge entries in the Nationwide Series Bashas’
Supermarkets 200, rookie Jason Bowles in the #81 Dodge Challenger sponsored by
American Majority Racing and journeyman driver David Green in the Robinson-Blakeney
Racing #28 Dodge. Bowles finished 3 laps
down in 19th place, helping him move up 6 spots in the season
standings to 22nd. Bowles is
currently 61 points out of first palce.
Green started 35th and finished 35th – leaving the
race on lap 109 due to an engine vibration.
On Sunday, the same three Dodge Charger stock cars that
represented the brand in last week’s Daytona 500 qualified for the Sprint Cup
Series Subway Fresh Fit 500. AJ
Allmendinger in his #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was the best of the three Chargers
in qualifying, starting 15th while Keselowski started 28th
in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge and Robby Gordon started 39th in his #7
Speed Energy Charger.
After a strong qualifying run and a good early race, AJ
Allmendinger had troubles on lap 133 that required his team to do some quick
repairs and while they were able to get the #22 Charger back on the track -
Allmendinger would not be in contention.
He finished 18th, one lap down and now sits in 25th
(up 6 spots) on the season. For the
second week in a row, Robby Gordon ran into mechanical troubles and was forced
to leave the race after just 33 laps when his brakes were failing. Gordon is now in 42nd place on the
Brad Keselowski was once again the bright spot for Dodge
NASCAR fans, fighting his way from the rear of the field in his #2 Miller Lite
Dodge Charger to finish the race in 5th spot. Thanks to his strong efforts this past week,
Keselowski jumped up 17 spots in the season standings, now sitting in 12th
place after the first two stops of the year.
While Team Dodge didn’t grab any wins this past week in
Phoenix, the fact that they were able to field a 2nd and 6th
in the Nationwide Series along with a 5th place in the Sprint Cup
race shows promise for the rest of the 2012 NASCAR season. IF Dodge is going to survive, their cars will
need to do well enough in both of the NASCAR leagues to attract new teams for
next year. Weeks like this one are a