MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 24, 2010 ) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 10th in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The result is the first top-10 finish for Keselowski in his first full Cup Series season as a member of Penske Racing.
Keselowski began Sunday’s event from the 25th position as he toured the .526-mile oval in 19.697 seconds, or 96.136 mph, during Friday’s qualifying session. As the green flag flew to start the event, Keselowski was caught in the high lane around the Martinsville oval and, as a result, lost several positions. When he was finally able to move down to the lower, preferred line on lap 11 he had fallen back to 35th place. As he settled into to a nice rhythm, Keselowski was able to race his way back to the 28th position before the first caution flag flew on lap 48. He radioed to crew chief Jay Guy that he needed to turn better just past the center of the corners. Guy called for minor adjustments to the air pressure in the Goodyear radial tires and Keselowski restarted the race from the 26th position on lap 54.
Following the second pit stop of the day on lap 112, Keselowski was caught for speeding on pit road and forced to restart the race from the rear of the field. From this point of the race he would gradually make his way back to the front. After electing to remain on the track during a lap 132 caution period, Keselowski restarted the race in the 17th position, a significant gain in track position that was a key decision that led to the day’s success. A few laps later, on lap 159, Keselowski made his way inside the top 15 for the first time.
As the race moved past lap 200, several caution periods interrupted the action on the track. Keselowski radioed that he was happy with his car, but he needed the race to settle into a nice pace. Guy made minimal adjustments to the chassis under a lap 228 caution period and Keselowski maintained his position in the front half of the field.
The caution flag flew on lap 234 as the No. 00 made contact with Keselowski in Turns 3 and 4, causing it to spin, but little damage was done to the No. 12 Dodge. At the 250-lap halfway point of the race, Keselowski began to push his car to see what he would have for the end of the race. He began to turn some of the fastest lap times on the track as he set his sights on the top 10.
The penultimate caution period came on lap 385. It would be the last time Keselowski would visit pit road. Guy made slight adjustments to the air pressure in the left-side tires. Great pit work by the No. 12 crew saw Keselowski restart the race from the 11th position on lap 394. Within two laps he had entered the top 10. Over the last 100 laps, Keselowski was once again turning lap times as fast as the race leader. He would cross the finish line in 10th place to mark one of his most successful weekends of the season as he won his sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series race of 2010 the previous afternoon at Gateway International Raceway.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the Penske Dodge Charger team remain 25th in both the driver and owner point standings.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished in 16th and 25th place, respectively, in the Tums Fast Relief 500.
“It was a good solid day for us and we got a good finish out of it,” said Keselowski. “It was a good weekend for us, winning the Nationwide race yesterday and getting a top 10 here today. In the middle part of the race, we probably weren’t that good, but at the start and at the end we were solid. Good pit stops and good restarts gave us good track position. Put it all together and you end up with a top 10.”
The No. 12 team will head to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend. The AMP Energy Juice 500 will be seen live on Sunday, October 31 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 Tums Fast Relief 500 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 25