Keselowski Earns Top-Three Finish at Auto Club Speedway

March 25, 2012

FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2012)– Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 America’s Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished third in the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) on Saturday afternoon. The result marks the fourth top-three finish for Keselowski in the first five races of the young 2012 season.  

Keselowski began the 150-lap race from the third position after posting a lap of 40.653 seconds, or 177.109 miles per hour, during the Saturday morning qualifying session. When the green flag waved to start the event, Keselowski noted that his car was loose on corner exit. He was able to change his line around the multi-grooved racetrack to find a line that tightened up his handling condition. The America’s Tire Dodge came alive after the first ten laps and Keselowski, running in the third position, began to chase down the race leaders. At lap 28, he assumed the lead for the first time during the event and he began to click off the fastest lap times on the track. 

The first round of pit stops on the day came under the green flag and Keselowski brought his America’s Tire Dodge to the attention of his team at lap 36. Great pit work by the 22 team saw Keselowski stretch his lead to over four seconds as the pit stops cycled through at lap 38. Keselowski held on to the lead until the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 57. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins brought his driver down pit road once again, but Keselowski pitted the No. 22 Dodge too close to the wall, costing him valuable time on pit road. Following the pit stop, Keselowski restarted the race in the ninth position at lap 63. 

As the racing action resumed, Keselowski began to make his way back through the field, eventually working his way back to the fourth position before another caution period at lap 92. Once again, Bullins called his driver down pit road and, unfortunately, Keselowski had more issues getting into his pit stall. He radioed that he thought the brakes were dialed too much to the rear, so he adjusted for future pit stops. However, Keselowski lost an additional five positions on this round of pit stops as he restarted the event from the ninth position at lap 97. 

Over the final 50 laps of the event, Keselowski made his way back to the front of the field, eventually regaining the lead at lap 126. A late-race caution at lap 133 gave Keselowski and Bullins one more opportunity to change all four Goodyear radials to give the driver a shot at the victory. He restarted the race in the fifth position at lap 139 as many other competitors elected to change only right-side tires. Keselowski quickly raced his way into the third position. However, track position proved to be too much to overcome and he could not mount a serious charge on the race leaders as he crossed the finish line in the third position. 

Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished 13th in the Royal Purple 300 on Saturday afternoon. 

Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 22 team are ranked third in the NNS owner point standings. 

"A solid day for everyone on this America’s Tire team,” said Keselowski. “We moved back up to the front there at the end, but just needed a little bit more to run with Joey. He was very, very strong just like the 6 car, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I certainly want to get a win. We came up a little bit short today. There were some things that I could have done a little bit better to get a win, but it just didn't work out." 

Keselowski and the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team will enjoy two weeks off before moving to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday, April 13, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Coverage will air live beginning at 8:00 pm EST on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.