LOUDON, N.H. (September 19, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske/AAA Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 18th in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the event before an ill-handling chassis resulted in the loss of valuable track position for the 26-year-old driver.
Keselowski began Sunday’s event from the pole position for the first time in 44 career Cup Series races. The 24th driver to make a qualifying lap during Friday’s time trials, Keselowski toured the 1.058-mile oval in 28.515 seconds, or 133.572 mph, for a new track record at the 20-year-old facility.
As the race began, Keselowski was able to lead the first lap of the race before conceding the top spot to Tony Stewart. Once he settled into a nice rhythm, Keselowski began turning some of the fastest laps of any driver inside the top 10. He radioed to crew chief Jay Guy that his car was too loose just past the center of the NHMS corners while maintaining his position inside the top-five cars. When the first caution flag flew on lap 25, Guy called Keselowski down pit road for a two-tire pit stop. Strong pit work by the No. 12 team saw Keselowski restart the race from the fourth position.
When the race resumed on lap 30, Keselowski quickly raced his No. 12 Penske/AAA Dodge Charger into the third position. While he was faster on the initial start, Keselowski began to develop issues with overall grip the longer he ran. With passing at a premium at NHMS, Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top 10 through the first 100 laps of the 300-lap event, which included a green-flag pit stop on lap 98 for adjustments to the air pressure in his Goodyear radials.
Prior to the halfway point of the race, Keselowski described the handling condition of his No. 12 Dodge as inconsistent, especially under braking. Guy observed that there was damage to the left front brake duct, which affected the capabilities of the braking system. As another caution flag flew on lap 147, Guy was able to call Keselowski down pit road for track bar and air pressure adjustments, in addition to repairs to the brake duct. Another solid pit stop by the No. 12 team resulted in Keselowski maintaining his position inside the top 10 as the race resumed on lap 152.
Keselowski continued to deal with a lack of grip as the race moved into the final 100 laps. Guy continued to make adjustments to the track bar and air pressure to give Keselowski a car that he could race back to the front of the field. The team made its last pit stop on lap 226 to put them inside a fuel window that would allow them to make it to the end of the race. Unfortunately the No. 12 team was not able to capitalize on this pit strategy and Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 18th position.
Keselowski and the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team sit 26th in both the driver and owner point standings following Sunday’s result.
Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished in 10th and 13th place, respectively.
“We had a lot of speed for qualifying, but we didn’t have the speed we needed in race trim,” said Keselowski. “We were probably a 15th-place car and then lost some spots there at the end. It’s disappointing we didn’t capitalize on our qualifying effort. It just didn’t work out for us toward the end of the race.”
The No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team will move to Dover International Speedway next weekend for the second time this season. The AAA 400 will be seen live on Sunday, September 26 on ESPN, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. The event will also be heard live on the Motor Racing Network, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.
Brad Keselowski Sylvania 300 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 1
Points Position: 26