July 28, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
Keselowski Wins Inaugural Indiana 250 At IMS
Brad Keselowski delivered a long-awaited stock car victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to legendary team owner Roger Penske, winning the inaugural Indiana 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday, July 28.
Penske Racing has earned a record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories, but this was the first NASCAR victory for the team on the 2.5-mile oval. Keselowski passed Penske teammate and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. on Lap 72 of the 100-lap race and beat him to the finish by 3.304 seconds in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
“I’ve been watching races here for a long time as a kid from Michigan,” Keselowski said. “Everyone knows how special Indy is. To win the first Nationwide Series race is special here. This is for Roger. It’s special for me to deliver it to him.”
Ty Dillon finished third in the No. 51 Wesco Chevrolet. Dillon, 20, is the grandson of three-time Brickyard 400-winning car owner Richard Childress.
Kyle Busch led a race high three times for 51 laps in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota. But he never recovered from a slow pit stop under caution on Lap 64 that dropped him from first to ninth on the ensuing restart. Busch ended up finishing 22nd, slowed by a spin after losing control on a restart on Lap 79. He side-swiped Hornish during the incident, who continued in the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge without trouble.
Elliott Sadler appeared to have a chance at victory, taking the lead on a restart on Lap 83 in the No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. But NASCAR judged that he jumped the restart, and Sadler was forced to serve a drive-through penalty on Lap 89. Keselowski was officially credited with leading the laps Sadler was out front, and Keselowski then pulled away from Hornish over the final 10 laps.
“I didn't have any dreams of grandeur or whatever of going out there and passing him on the last lap,” Hornish said. “It would have been awesome if we did, but I felt like as soon as I got within 10 car lengths, he was going to step it back up a little bit. I knew it was going to have to be one of those deals where he made a mistake for me to be able to get the job done and to feel comfortable about doing it.”
2005 Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick finished 35th in her stock-car debut at IMS in the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. She was eliminated from the race on Lap 40 after hitting the rear of Reed Sorenson’s car in Turn 1. Sorenson spun and collected Patrick, with both cars hitting the SAFER Barrier in Turn 1.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying, Denny Hamlin earned the pole for the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com with a lap of 182.763 mph in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota.
“This is very, very high up on my list of tracks to want to win,” Hamlin said. “I consider it as high as the Daytona 500, personally, so this is a great start to our weekend knowing we have the No. 1 pit stall, we have obviously a fast car, and I have a great pit crew that’s going to hopefully keep me out front all day.”
Carl Edwards will start alongside Hamlin in the front row after posting a fast lap of 181.984 in the No. 99 Fastenal Ford.
Defending race winner Paul Menard qualified eighth at 181.014 in the No. 27 Menards/Nibco Chevrolet.
The 160-lap Sprint Cup Series race starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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