- Associated Press - Friday, October 22, 2010

MADISON, ILL. (AP) - What may be the last NASCAR event at Gateway International Raceway may include some fireworks.

Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards return to the track on Saturday with some history.

Edwards bumped then-leader Keselowski out of the way just 200 yards from the finish line to win the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway on July 17. Following the race, Keselowski’s father accused Edwards of trying to “kill his son.”

Keselowski, who ended up 14th in that race, said he would like to gain some revenge by winning on Saturday. He needs only 136 points to clinch the Nationwide Series championship and leads Edwards by 450 points with four races left.

“You try not to worry about the battle,” Keselowski said. “You worry about the war _ and that was just one battle in the war.”

All that drama aside, Danica Patrick is preparing for the race with a sense of satisfaction. She sees plenty of progress in her initial NASCAR campaign, including a season-best 21st-place finish last week at Charlotte.

She’s set what she believes is an attainable goal for Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 250 at Gateway.

“Something in the top 15 would be nice,” she said Friday. “At this point in time, it’s important for me to keep realistic expectations and stick to the top 15.”

Patrick, racing for JR Motorsports, will be making her 10th start of the season on the Nationwide circuit. The 28-year-old bounced back from a rough start with an encouraging 24th-place finish at Chicagoland on July 9. Last week was her best effort to date in terms of both standings and confidence.

“It’s always nice to have the results, but I know that I’ve learned as I’ve gone along,” she said. “And that’s what’s important. I feel more comfortable in the car. I just feel more under control, I feel like it’s coming at me a little slower than it did in the beginning.”

Patrick and her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet will be tested during her first appearance at the 1.25-mile oval. She said she is looking forward to the challenge.

Earlier this week, Patrick said she plans on making 13 starts on the Nationwide circuit next season, running a similar schedule to the one she has undergone this campaign.

Slowly, but surely, Patrick is learning the NASCAR ropes.

“The last two races, she’s done really, really well,” said Rusty Wallace, a former Winston Cup Champion. “I think she’s really starting to catch on.”

Gateway has been put up for sale by Dover Motorsports Inc., which did not apply for any racing dates at the 1.25-mile track next season. That means Gateway will lack a major race in 2011 for the first time since 1997.

NOTES: Keselowski and Edwards, who are racing in the Sprint Cup event Sunday at Martinsville, will both likely have to start from the back of the pack. They are not expected to attend the Saturday morning drivers’ meeting at Gateway. … Edwards and Reed Sorenson have combined to win five of the last six races here.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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