Keselowski Battles to 25th-Place Finish at Michigan

June 19, 2011

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 19, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 25th in the Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. A promising start to the event – Keselowski passed 15 cars over the first two laps – was derailed after the Penske Racing driver and Michigan native cut down a right front tire following contact with the outside wall.
Keselowski began the 400-mile event from the 41st position after he posted a lap of 39.093 seconds, or 184.176 miles per hour, during Saturday's qualifying session. As the green flag flew to start the race, Keselowski quickly made it known that his starting position was not indicative of how strong the Miller Lite Dodge was capable of running. By the third lap of the race, Keselowski had moved up to the 26th spot, an improvement of 15 positions. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was handling too tight in the center of the MIS corners, but his entry and exit of the turns were perfect. A quick caution on lap 8 gave Wolfe an opportunity to make a right-side air pressure adjustment in the Goodyear radials on a two-tire pit stop. The NASCAR official assigned to the No. 2 pit stall was unaware that the Miller Lite crew was performing a two-tire stop and he didn't clear the front of the No. 2 Dodge before Keselowski left the stall. The slight contact with the official resulted in a dent in the right-front fender.
Despite racing his way inside the top 20, Keselowski still had to deal with a tight-handling condition on the Miller Lite machine. Wolfe and the team continued to make changes that would free the car up, including an adjustment to the track bar on the second pit stop of the day. Each adjustment made a small change in the handling, but Keselowski's car was still too tight to run on the top side of the racetrack, which was the preferred line of many of leading cars.
On lap 81, while attempting to run the high groove, Keselowski made contact with the outside wall in the middle of Turns 1 and 2. While the damage was mainly cosmetic, it further exacerbated the right-front fender damage from the first pit stop. Just three laps later, Keselowski cut down his right-front tire while entering Turn 1. Additional contact with the outside wall damaged the toe of the No. 2 Dodge and forced Keselowski down pit road twice for repairs before restarting the race from the 31st position on lap 89.
In trying to give his driver the best opportunity for a good finish, Wolfe kept Keselowski on the racetrack for an extended run following the restart, in hopes of gaining valuable positions. After making his penultimate stop at lap 125, under the green flag, Keselowski fell one lap down to the race leaders. He immediately began to race his way into position for the "Lucky Dog" award to get back on the lead lap, but the race leaders' fast pace kept putting other cars a lap down that were in front of the Miller Lite Dodge.
A yellow flag pit stop at lap 160 gave the Miller Lite crew another opportunity to repair the toe of the No. 2 Dodge. Following the stop, Keselowski restarted the race in the 25th position and with the improved handling it looked as though he could race his way into the top 20. However, upon restarting the event at lap 196 after the final caution period of the day, Keselowski radioed that he had lost a cylinder in the power plant of the Miller Lite Dodge. He eventually crossed the finish line in 25th place.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 11th in the Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips 400.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are currently positioned 22nd in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
"Obviously we had a poor qualifying effort that forced us to start at the rear of the field," said Keselowski. "Once the green flag flew, our Miller Lite Dodge was a rocket. We were able to make our way up the field and raced as high as 18th. I was just trying to move around on the race track, trying to get us to where we needed to be. I just pushed too hard and hit the wall and that led to a flat tire that totally changed our day. From there, our day went downhill and we just had to battle. Later in the day, we started to make our car right and had an opportunity to make a good run out of it and get a good finish, but we had some engine issues on the restart. It's tough. This track and race means so much to me. I really wanted to have good run and we just didn't make it happen today."
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, June 26. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 3:00 pm ET on TNT. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 90.