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Crew chief Jeremy Bullins links 3 winning NASCAR Nationwide drivers

Motorsports Notebook

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Jun. 29, 2013

Three different Penske Racing drivers have made it to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season with one common denominator.

They were all driving the No. 22 Ford led by crew chief Jeremy Bullins.

Brad Keselowski was the latest with a victory with the team after he was declared the winner in a rain-shorted Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.

Bullins has won races this season with drivers Joey Logano, A.J. Allmendinger and Keselowski.

Bullins says there is no secret to success.

“It’s just I am surrounded by a great organization and guys at the shop are building good race cars. We have Roush Yates engines with great horsepower and mileage,” he said.

“Our pit crew has done a phenomenal job coming together and this race team is getting stronger, and I think, working together. Anytime you can get yourself up front that is contagious.”

That’s certainly been the case of late.

Logano won at Dover, Del., early this month; Allmendinger won last weekend on the road course at Road America; and Keselowski’s win gave the No. 22 team wins in three of the past five races.

Friday night’s win didn’t come without a battle. Keselowski dueled often in the race with Kyle Busch – the series’ all-time winner – before emerging as the leader on Lap 157. A caution for rain came out on Lap 167 and the race was halted four laps later.

“I am in one of those rare instances as a driver where you know you have everything going for you team wise, car wise, etc. You just think to yourself, ‘Boy, I hope I don’t screw this up,’ ” Keselowski said.

“A car that was this good is just an honor to have. I felt really lucky. Certainly I didn’t want to win it in a rain shortened way but I feel we could have won it either way, but who knows.”

Elliott Sadler finished second, Matt Crafton was third, Brian Vickers was fourth and Busch was fifth. Series points leader Regan Smith had problems with his front suspension and ended up 30th.

Four drivers – Sadler, Vickers, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson – qualified for the first (of four) $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonuses, which will be paid out next weekend at Daytona.

Veteran surprised with track ride

Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola, in cooperation with his sponsor, Eckrich, surprised Marine Corps Corporal Sebastian Gallegos with a ride around Kentucky Speedway on Saturday morning.

Gallegos, 23, is a Purple Heart recipient, having lost his right arm in Afghanistan. In addition to the ride, he and his wife, Tracie, got a tour of the garage area and track and planned to sit atop the No. 43 team’s pit box.



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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