By Patrick Rall
While Brad Keselowski came into Bristol this past weekend with
high hopes after winning the previous two NASCAR Sprint Cup events at the tiny
track the weekend went about as badly as it could with wrecks in both the
Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series races.
Things started off pretty well for the Team Penske Dodge
Challengers in qualifying for the Ford City 250 on Saturday night with Keselowski
starting in the 8th spot with his #22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger
while teammate Sam Hornish Jr. started in the 9th spot with his #12
Detroit Genuine Parts Challenger. These
two series regulars were joined by rookie Jason Bowles who started 26th
in his #81 American Majority Dodge Challenger.
Unfortunately, just 29 laps into the race, Brad Keselowski ran up on a
slower car and when he cut to the inside, his Discount Tire Challenger cut
across the front end of the #11 Toyota Camry. This sent Keselowski spinning
into the outside wall – effectively ending his day. He would get back on the track en route to a
disappointing 32nd place finish, 24 laps down.
After his 26th place spot, Jason Bowles had a
pretty solid day, finishing up in the 18th spot. Hornish did what he has done all season and
hung around in the top 10 all day and when the checked flag fell, his #12
Challenger sat in the 10th spot.
Hornish continues to hold the 3rd spot in the Nationwide
Series season standings, just 28 points out of first. The Food City 250 was won by #18 Toyota
driver Joey Lagano.
Over in the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranks, things looked very
promising early as Brad Keselowski and his #2 Dodge Charger started on the outside
of row 1. Keselowski battled some
handling problems on and off throughout the race but while running in a tight
crowd, Keselowski was forced to slow as another car slowed in front of him -
causing the car running behind the #2 Charger to nudge Brad into the wall. The damage was bad enough for Keselowski to
head into the garage area for a lengthy period and while he would return to
finish the race – he did so in the 30th spot, 66 laps down.
Sam Hornish Jr was forced to start in the 29th
spot and a combination of handling problems and an early brush with the wall on
lap 81 kept him at the rear of the field all day – settling for a 34th
place finish. Saturday night’s IRWIN
Tools night race was won by Denny Hamlin.
Keselowski’s struggles forced him to drop two spots in the
2012 NASCAR championship points – sitting him in the 7th spot
overall and 59 points out of first.