Keselowski Wheels Blue Deuce to Top-Three at Kansas
October 10, 2011
Fresh off a win in Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Kansas, Keselowski ran inside the top-10 for most of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 and he ran as high as second in the latter stages of the race. The Miller Lite Dodge was running in third place with just three laps to go in the race when a caution flag was displayed as the No. 24 car of Jeff Gordon had engine problems. This set up a green-white-checkered flag finish that saw Keselowski push Kasey Kahne to a second-place finish as he brought his Dodge Charger home third.
Early in the race Keselowski radioed to the No. 2 team that his car was loose-handling in the exit of the corners and he didn't have forward drive off of the turns. The winner of the Spring Cup Series race at Kansas, Keselowski was running in the eighth position on Lap 19 of the scheduled 267-lap event when the first caution flag of the race flew. This allowed the Miller Lite crew to go work on the car - making a track bar adjustment to address the car's handling issues. When the green flag waved to restart the race on Lap 23, Keselowski was shown in seventh.
After just five more laps of green-flag racing, Keselowski reported that the condition was the same on the Miller Lite machine, but he continued to turn competitive lap times despite having an ill-handling car. The Michigan-born driver continued to run solidly in the top-10 all afternoon as crew chief Paul Wolf and the No. 2 team made adjustments with each pit stop. Over the course of the race the team was able to improve the car's drive off of the corners, but it fell just short of the performance Keselowski needed to contend for the win.
By Lap 175 the Penske Racing Dodge had moved up to third on the race track with inspired driving and excellent service by the team on pit lane. Debris on the racing surface brought out a yellow caution flag on Lap 204, which enabled the Miller Lite crew to once again make adjustments to the car. The "Blue Deuce" restarted the race in fifth place behind Tony Stewart, who fell of the pace on the Lap 210 restart, which caused Keselowski to lose track position as he fell to eighth.
The No. 2 Dodge caught a break when two caution flags were displayed in close succession. This allowed the team to take two tires during the first yellow flag and stay out on track on the second, which put them at the head of the field and allowed Keselowski to garner a valuable point for leading a lap. Keselowski gave it everything he had in the closing laps but he was not able to hold off eventual race winner Jimmy Johnson and from there he battled insidethe top-three positions until the checkered flag.
"Another solid day for us," said Keselowski. "It just makes you kick yourself for last week at Dover for having the trouble that we did. We've had top-five cars each and every week. We're executing very well as a group and as a team. The things that we can control, we're doing very well. I'm proud of everything and our efforts. We were about a third- to fifth-place car today. We brought home a third, so I'm proud of that effort. Kasey (Kahne) looked really good there at the end. I told Roger Penske to check the No. 22 (Nationwide Series) hauler from yesterday because I'm pretty sure that Jimmie (Johnson) stole the car and put new decals on it because he was gone. He was fast. I'm proud of the effort and proud that we were able to get a solid run out of it again. I just wish I could have beat Jimmie - he just had a little more in the tank than we did. We gave it our best effort."
Keselowski and the Miller Lite team will compete next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America 500. The race will be televised live on ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will also be broadcast on PRN and Sirius 90.