Keselowski Leads Laps, Finishes Seventh in Kentucky

July 10, 2011

SPARTA, Ky. (July 9, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished seventh in the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night. The result put the finishing touches on a memorable weekend for the Penske Racing driver. He captured his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win of 2011 on Saturday night. On Friday, he was on hand to watch Parker Kligerman finish second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in his No. 29 Penske Truck Rental Ram from Brad Keselowski Racing.

Keselowski began the 267-lap event from the sixth position after rain canceled the Saturday afternoon qualifying session and the field was set by practice times per the 2011 NASCAR rulebook. As the race began, Keselowski was able to maintain his spot in the sixth position as drivers began to determine how the "dirty" air would affect the handling of the cars at the venue. A competition caution at lap 30 gave crew chief Paul Wolfe and opportunity to assess the tire wear on the Miller Lite Dodge, while the team elected to take only two Goodyear radials and fuel. Keselowski remained in the sixth position as the race resumed under the green flag at lap 36.

While attempting to make his way to the front of the field to collect a valuable bonus point for leading a lap, Keselowski radioed that the Miller Lite Dodge was too tight in the center of the corners on the 1.5-mile oval. When Wolfe called him down pit road for an air pressure adjustment on lap 78, Keselowski had made his way inside the top-five for the first time on the evening. As the pit stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself in the seventh position, but turning lap times faster than the race leader.

Wolfe kept the Miller Lite machine on the racing surface until lap 130 before making a green-flag stop for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. This put the team inside its fuel window to make it to the end of the race with only two more pit stops. Keselowski returned to the track in the ninth position at lap 131, but he assumed the lead for the first time at lap 142 when the race leaders entered pit road under the second caution period of the night. Once out in "clean" air, the No. 2 machine was the fastest car on the track for the first several laps of a run.

Perhaps nothing demonstrated the determination of Keselowski more than a restart following a lap 152 caution flag. After he remained on the race track, Keselowski restarted the race beside the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch. As the two raced side-by-side for one lap, it gave the No. 14 machine of Tony Stewart the opportunity to get to the inside of both cars to make the racing three-wide. This forced Keselowski into the highest groove on the racetrack, where not many drivers had ventured, but he kept his foot on the throttle and cleared both cars by the third turn of that lap. Keselowski stated over the radio that he had "fought too hard to get to the front and he wasn't giving it up." Keselowski then proceeded to turn a lap four-tenths of a second faster than the rest of the  field.

Keselowski surrendered the lead as he hit pit road at lap 186 for four tires and fuel, but he reclaimed the top spot on lap 202 when the other leaders made their scheduled pit stops. Once again, being out front proved to be the place to be as Keselowski found himself turning the fastest laps on the racetrack. Needing to make one more stop to make it to the end, Wolfe elected to make the team's final visit to pit road at lap 243. He called for a two-tire stop as his driver hit the pit road entrance, but the team needed to ensure it took enough fuel for potential overtime laps. This resulted in Keselowski returning to the racetrack in the 13th position, which quickly turned into fourth-place after the pit stops cycled out under a lap 254 caution period.

Keselowski and Wolfe both agreed that they should revisit pit road under this final caution period for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment that would allow the Miller Lite machine to take off quickly over the final laps of the race. However, on the restart – which turned into two restarts before the end of the race – Keselowski found himself on the unfavorable inside line. This prevented the driver from being as aggressive as he needed to be to get back to the front of the pack. He crossed the finish line in seventh place for his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished ninth in Saturday's Quaker State 400.

Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are currently ranked 21st in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.

"It was an incredible Miller Lite Dodge tonight," said Keselowski. "I led a bunch of laps and I have to thank my team for that. Everyone at Penske Racing has a lot to be proud of. I would have liked to have gotten a better finish from where we ended up. At the end, the restarts are just a crapshoot. If you get the bottom lane, you're going backwards. I kept getting in an odd position and just kept getting on the bottom lane. Every restart just kept playing against us. A great effort by this race team and that makes me proud."

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete at the inaugural Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 17. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 1:00 pm ET on TNT. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 90.