By Patrick Rall
The third stop on the 2012 NASCAR tour brought the teams to
Las Vegas Motor Speedway and as was the case in Daytona, the majority of the
Dodge drivers would rather forget about the trip to Sin City. Chevrolet driver Tony Stewart won the race
while two other Chevys and two Fords made up the rest of the top 5. The highest finishing Dodge Charger was Brad
Keselowski’s #2 Miller Lite car – he finished 32nd. There was plenty of good news for Dodge fans
before the racing began with the introduction of the great looking 2013 Sprint
Cup Dodge Charger but on the track, things were much less exciting.
Brad Keselowski and teammate AJ Allmendinger both had strong
cars early in the race but problems began on lap 149 when Allmendinger ran into
fuel pressure problems. AJ brought the
#22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger into the garage area to attempt to repair the
fuel delivery problems but it would take several trips to fix the progressing
fuel system issues. The result was a
disappointing 37th place finish, 30 laps down after his decent start
in 14th place.
The fuel delivery monster took a little longer to read its
ugly head at Brad Keselowski’s #2 Charger but on a restart after Landon
Cassill’s Toyota Camry blew an engine on lap 246, Keselowski’s car failed to
make power and he was passed by masses of other cars in the field. It was later stated that the car had fuel in
the tank, so the fuel pressure issues had to have been caused by the new
NASCAR-required electronic fuel injection system which replaced the good old
carbureted induction setups. Keselowski
finished 8 laps down in 32nd spot after qualifying 20th.
Robby Gordon failed to qualify for the Las Vegas race in his
#7 Speed Energy Dodge Charger.
In the Saturday NASCAR Nationwide Series race, things were a
bit better with Sam Hornish Jr. finishing 9th in his #12 Alliance
Truck Parts Dodge Challenger (shown above). Hornish’s
teammate Brad Keselowski finished 23rd in his #5 Discount Tire
Challenger while other Dodge drivers Derrick Cope and Jennifer Jo Cobb finished
32nd and 36th, respectively. Unfortunately, NASCAR Nationwide Series
up-and-comer Jason Bowles went to Toyota with his #81 team – leaving behind the
Dodge Challenger for a Toyota Camry stock car.
Hornish and Keselowski are members of Team Penske, who will be switching
from Dodge to Ford for the 2013 Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.
Both teams wrote off the problems as being a part of the
learning curve but with consistent problems plaguing the Sprint Cup teams – it
may be tough for SRT Motorsports to find interested parties for the 2013 NASCAR
season. SRT Motorsports may be able to
entice teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series to run the Dodge Challenger,
especially in the case of smaller, lower budget teams (like Robby Gordon) but
with only so many of those teams still competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series, the teams piloting the Charger really need to have more success to
attract future takers.