Special K inches closer to first Championship: The Dollar General 300 Review

Despite history from last week, Danica Patrick (7) and James Buescher raced each other cleanly during the Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Patrick finished 21st, two laps down. Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR via nascar-assets.americaneagle.com

What a wild race.  And a wierd one.  During qualifing we saw 3 different drivers spin out.  Carl Long actually spun twice during his run.  Then once race day came, we had two early accidents. 

Danica Patrick had a quiet day, and actually came home with her best finish of 2010, 21st.  She was two laps down.  But given the last 3 races for her ended below 25th, it was a step in the right direction. 

The race came down to a 9 lap shootout after Steven Wallace was booted into the wall.  Martin Truex looked ready to pounce and win this one as he had 13 less laps on his tires then Keselowski, and was running strong all day.  Somehow, even on old tires, Special K was able to hold off the hard charging Truex, and with 5 laps to go actually pulled away from the paw print spotted #00 Toyota. 

It was Keselowski's 11th Nationwide victory of his career, as well as the 5th this season for him. 

It was also the second COT win for Keso, meaning that he will be a treat next year as well.  Keselowski leads the points by 450.  He needs to leave Gateway with a 483 point lead to clinch the championship next week.  Which means he has to make up 33 points on Edwards.  Even if he doesn't clinch at Gateway, I would expect to see him clinch after Texas.  That doesn't mean Nationwide will stop being exciting.  Quite the opposite, with no title to win you'll see guys go out there and try everything to win.

Results and more after the JUMP!

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Pts Bns Driver Rating Winnings Status Tms Laps
1 3 22 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Dodge 200 190 5 128.4 $57,400 Running 3 46
2 5 00 Martin Truex Jr. Out! Pet Care Toyota 200 175 5 114.2 $55,025 Running 2 20
3 9 12 Justin Allgaier Verizon Wireless Dodge 200 165   112.5 $43,743 Running
4 4 20 Joey Logano GameStop / Guitar Hero Toyota 200 165 5 117.1 $34,850 Running 1 8
5 1 21 Clint Bowyer Zaxby's Chevy 200 160 5 123.1 $37,925 Running 2 29
6 10 18 Kyle Busch Z-Line Designs Toyota 200 160 10 135.9 $25,650 Running 5 84
7 7 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General Toyota 200 146   95.2 $27,203 Running
8 15 88 Aric Almirola Hellmann's Chevy 200 147 5 89.7 $25,763 Running 1 1
9 2 1 Ryan Newman Phoenix Construction Chevy 200 138   98.9 $18,900 Running
10 14 33 Kevin Harvick Rheem Tankless Water Heaters Chevy 200 139 5 96.9 $18,075 Running 1 2
11 21 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Toyota 200 130   85.0 $22,918 Running
12 19 11 David Reutimann Rexall / Dollar General Toyota 200 127   89.6 $15,850 Running
13 11 60 Carl Edwards Copart.com Ford 200 124   97.1 $15,700 Running
14 13 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # CitiFinancial Ford 200 121   74.4 $22,393 Running
15 24 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips Toyota 200 118   82.2 $24,193 Running
16 30 10 James Buescher # AccuDoc Solutions Toyota 200 120 5 75.3 $20,943 Running 1 8
17 25 17 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Ford 200 112   80.8 $14,475 Running
18 39 43 Josh Wise OTWcrew.com / Ingersoll Rand Dodge 200 109   62.5 $14,075 Running
19 12 16 Colin Braun # Con-way Freight Ford 199 106   76.4 $20,368 Running
20 34 34 Tony Raines Long John Silvers Chevy 198 103   64.8 $21,368 Running
21 18 7 Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevy 198 100   66.4 $20,068 Running
22 23 25 Kelly Bires Raybestos Ford 198 97   58.1 $13,500 Running
23 43 24 Eric McClure Hefty Odor Block Ford 198 94   49.4 $20,268 Running
24 27 05 David Starr Cash America Chevy 197 91   49.2 $19,768 Running
25 35 01 Mike Wallace TireBuyer.com Chevy 197 88   51.0 $20,118 Running
26 31 81 Michael McDowell DeWafelbakkers/Red Line Oil Dodge 196 85   55.1 $19,593 Running
27 42 28 Kenny Wallace Kengor Metals Chevy 195 82   38.0 $19,468 Running
28 22 09 Brian Scott # Shore Lodge Ford 192 79   56.9 $19,393 Running
29 16 66 Steve Wallace 5-hour Energy Toyota 188 76   70.1 $19,343 Accident
30 38 27 Hermie Sadler CruiseOne / enMotion Ford 188 73   46.9 $19,993 Running
31 40 40 Mike Bliss Westerman Companies Chevy 176 70   42.8 $19,238 Running
32 37 35 Jason Keller TriStar Motorsports Chevy 170 67   39.6 $19,153 Running
33 41 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Pink and Blue for Two Chevy 130 64   37.6 $19,093 Accident
34 20 04 Jeremy Clements Boudreaux's Butt Paste Chevy 118 61   58.7 $12,590 Rear Gear
35 6 98 Paul Menard Goof Off/ Menards Ford 117 63 5 86.5 $12,610 Engine 1 2
36 32 15 Michael Annett Valvoline Toyota 73 55   34.2 $18,993 Accident
37 17 99 Ryan Truex Out! Pet Care Toyota 72 52   61.0 $18,958 Accident
38 28 56 Kevin Lepage RaceDaySponsor.com Toyota 25 49   39.0 $12,435 Vibration
39 29 70 Shelby Howard K21 Cancer Care Fund / ForeTravel Chevy 19 46   36.0 $18,863 Accident
40 26 49 Mark Green FrontlineWraps.com Chevy 12 43   32.9 $12,365 Electrical
41 36 87 Joe Nemechek HostGator.com Chevy 10 40   34.7 $18,803 Accident
42 33 36 Jeff Green TriStar Motorsports Chevy 4 37   29.8 $12,290 Ignition
43 8 26 Parker Kligerman DODGE Dodge 3 34   30.4 $12,291 Accident

It was rough seeing young guys like Parker Kligerman, Michael Annett, and Ryan Truex taken out of this race so quickly.

In a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week JR Motorsports officials announced that Danica Patrick will drive the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevy in the first four Nationwide race of 2011. The races beyond that have not been determined, although Patrick will take on a schedule similar to that of her 13-race rookie campaign.

The first four races include the season-opening DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 13) followed by the 200-mile race at Phoenix International Raceway (Feb. 26), the 300-mile race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, (March 5) and the 150-mile dash at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 19).  I'm excited to see her at Bristol.

Patrick will then return to the IndyCar Series to dedicate full-time attention to open-wheel racing, making sporadic returns to NASCAR throughout the year.

Friday's announcement also included the unveiling of the 2011 paint scheme for Patrick's No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevy.  Kelley Earnhardt also said that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will run 4 races in the #7, and the car will run the full season.  No word yet on anyone else who might be driving it.

News also broke that Patrick will be driving the 7-Eleven IRL entry next season for Andretti Racing.  7-Eleven is leaving Tony Kanaan.  Also heard that Jeff Gordon could land 7-Eleven for his #24 Sprint Cup Chevy.  This would stand to reason as Patrick is a Hendrick driver and plans are for her to join Nascar full time in 2013, when her current contract ends with Andretti Racing.  You could make the case for her to take over for Gordon in 3 years time - of course  a lot would have to happen for that to come true.

The battle for the top 30 took an interesting turn.  Shelby Howard was taken out early, which allowed the 81 team to cut the deficit to just 68 points.  Heres the battle:

28 Keller 35 2,712 +133
29 Richardson 23 2,664 +85
30 Howard 70 2,647 +68
31 McDowell 81 2,579 -68
32 Allen 05 2,542 -105
33 McClure 24 2,384 -263

We head back to Illinios next week as the Nationwide boys head to Gateway and I celebrate my 26th birthday.  Check back later in the week for the preview of the 5 Hour Energy 250 from Gateway International Raceway!  Enjoy!

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