Keselowski Finishes 2nd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
September 26, 2011
LOUDON, N.H. (September 25, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished second in the Sylvania 300 – the second race in the 2011 Chase for the Championship – at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Sunday afternoon. With the result, Keselowski moved up to the third position in the Chase for the Championship standings and sits just 11 points out of the lead.
Keselowski began Sunday’s 300-lap event from the 16th position after posting a lap of 28.473 seconds, or 133.769 miles per hour, around the one-mile oval during Friday’s qualifying session. When the green flag flew to start the event, Keselowski radioed that his car was handling tight entering the NHMS corners and loose exiting the turns. As a result, he dropped three spots to the 19th position early in the event. However, as the laps progressed the handling condition improved and his standing began to improve as well. By lap 28, Keselowski was turning the fastest laps on the track. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver down pit road for a green-flag stop at lap 64, where he prescribed air pressure and track bar adjustments to the Miller Lite Dodge chassis. As the pit stops cycled through at lap 68, Keselowski radioed that the car’s handling on corner entry had improved.
The first caution flag of the event fell at lap 87. Keselowski brought the Miller Lite machine down pit road under the caution for a two-tire stop in an attempt to gain valuable track position. However, many other competitors did the same and he restarted the race in the 20th position at lap 92.
Keselowski continued to battle track position in traffic, and the “dirty air” that comes with it, until a lap 173 caution when Wolfe elected to keep him on the racing surface. Keselowski restarted the event from the eighth spot on lap 178 and he immediately began to set his sights on the top-five cars. The “clean air” afforded by running at the front of the pack allowed Keselowski to race his way into the fifth position on lap 200. To place themselves inside a fuel window that would allow them to make it to the end of the race on one more pit stop, Wolfe and Keselowski decided to stay on the track until lap 231 before the Miller Lite Dodge came down pit road for the final stop of the day. Before visiting the pits, Keselowski was able to secure the race lead and garner the bonus point that comes with leading a lap. No chassis adjustments were made on pit lane and when the green-flag stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself running in the seventh position with many of the cars in front of him needing to stop one more time for fuel to make it to the checkered flag.
By turning some of the fastest laps on the track over the final run, Keselowski was able to race his way back inside the top-five at lap 273. For the second week in a row, many of the lead cars began to run out of fuel as the laps wound down. Keselowski, with plenty left in the tank, was able to pick up several positions over the final laps to earn a second-place finish. Keselowski and race winner, Tony Stewart, are the only Chase contenders to finish inside the top-five in the first two races of the 2011 Chase for the Championship.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 22nd in Sunday’s Sylvania 300. .
Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team moved into third place in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
"I feel really good about this one,” said Keselowski.”We struggled a little bit this weekend, but we executed and that's what these races are about. We've got some work to do on these short-track races, but we got some mile-and-a-half's coming up where we've been really, really good. I'm proud just to get through what looked to be a rough weekend with an awesome finish. I’m proud of my Miller Lite Dodge team, getting the right adjustments in the car all race and doing all those things that it takes. It's been a good roll.”
The third race for Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team in the 2011 Chase for the Championship will be the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, October 2. Live coverage will begin at 2 pm ET on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 90.