AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2009) – Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski saw his chances for a solid finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway end after he was involved in a multi-car accident just past the midway point of the race. Keselowski was able to finish the event in the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger, as he posted a 37th-place result.
Keselowski started the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 in the 26th position, but after Saturday’s “happy hour” practice session, the Penske Dodge team felt like it had a car capable of running solidly inside the top-15. Keselowski took off like a rocket after seeing the green flag as he picked five spots in the first 10 laps. He radioed his crew on lap 15 to explain that the car had good forward bite coming out of the corners. Keselowski did report that the car was handling tight entering the turns and it needed to roll better through the center of the flat corners. Crew chief Roy McCauley considered the changes the No.12 Penske Racing team would make during the first round of pit stops.
The 25-year-old Keselowski brought the No. 12 car into the pit box on lap 71 for service under green flag conditions. The team changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The crew also made both trackbar and air pressure adjustments as they tried to improve the car’s handling through the corners.
Keselowski informed the team five laps later that the car was really fast on its new tires and the adjustments helped the Penske Dodge’s performance in the corners.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 115 for debris in turns 1 and 2, the No. 12 team again prepared to see Keselowski on pit lane. He rolled into the pit box two laps later for service. The crew again went to work as they changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. They also made a slight air pressure adjustment to the right side tires in an effort to dial the car in for the next run.
On the lap 119 race restart, the leaders stacked up the field, which caused the cars in front of Keselowski to take evasive action. The Penske Dodge driver did all he could to avoid the impending accident, but he was hit from behind, which caused minor damage to the No.12 machine. Keselowski brought the No. 12 car back onto pit lane and the team made the appropriate repairs. After two trips down pit road to work on the car, the team felt that the Penske Dodge was race ready.
Keselowski took the green flag on lap 127 and had the No. 12 Penske Dodge positioned in the 31st spot. He again was on a mission toward the front of the field. By lap 160, Keslelowski improved to 26th place and he was posting lap times as quick as the cars inside the top-10.
On lap 170, several cars got together coming out of turn 4, which blocked the entire racing surface. Keselowski did his best to slow his machine down, but the Penske Dodge was collected in the incident. The damage to the No. 12 machine was too extensive to repair on pit lane, so Keselowski drove his car to the garage. The team did an outstanding job repairing the car in quick order. The Penske Dodge returned to the track to complete as many laps as possible and Keselowski picked up three valuable positions on the track. Keselowski finished the race in the 37th position.
“We had a good car today,” said Keselowski after the race. “We got caught up in the wreck on the restart, but the guys did a great job getting the car back together without losing a lap. I felt like we were in a good position, but then we were collected in the big wreck coming out of turn 4. I had no place to go. The track was blocked. I am really proud of this team. We brought a really fast race car here this weekend and I felt like we could have finished inside the top-15.”
The No. 12 Penske Dodge team will compete in the Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday, November 22. The Ford 400 will be seen live on ABC-TV. Race coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET. The event will also be heard live on MRN Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio, channel 128.
Brad Keselowski Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Statistics
Laps Led: 0