Keselowski Perseveres to Finish 16th at Charlotte
October 16, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Autostock
CONCORD, N.C. (October 15, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 16th in the Bank of America 500 – the fifth race in the 2011 Chase for the Championship – at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) on Saturday night. With the result, Keselowski fell to the sixth position in the Chase standings, but he is positioned just 25 points behind the series leader.
Keselowski began Sunday’s 334-lap event from the 26th position after posting a lap of 28.493 seconds, or 189.520 miles per hour, around the 1.5-mile oval during the Thursday qualifying session. When the green flag flew to start the event, Keselowski radioed that his car was handling too tight in the center of the CMS corners. Crew chief Paul Wolfe brought his driver down pit road for the first time at lap 46, under the green flag, for track bar and air pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel on the Miller Lite Dodge. As the pit stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself running in the 27th position at lap 49.
During the initial laps of the restart, the adjustments had a positive effect on the handling of the No. 2 machine. However, as Keselowski continued into the run the car gradually built back to the tight side. Further compounding the problem was the “dirty” air that the Penske Racing driver was forced to deal with by being mired in the middle of the 43-car pack. Wolfe and the team continued to made adjustments to the track bar over the second and third pit stops of the night until the car finally began to rotate in the center of the corners, which Keselowski noted at lap 131.
As the race moved toward the halfway point, Keselowski began making a charge toward the top-20 cars. He and Wolfe tried desperately to implement a two-tire stop that would give them the track position – along with the “clean” air that would come with it – but the strategy never played out the way they would’ve liked. After visiting pit road for another green-flag pit stop at lap 234, Keselowski was caught two laps down to the race leaders as the caution flag waved before the pit stops could cycle through. He stayed on the racetrack during the caution period to receive the “wave around” that placed him only one lap down.
When the race restarted at lap 246, Keselowski quickly made his way into the 17th position, with an eye on the top 15. Once again, after completing another green-flag pit stop, Keselowski was caught two laps down as another caution flag waved over the field before the leaders had made their pit stops. Upon receiving another “wave around,” Keselowski restarted the race in the 22nd position at lap 293.
Over the final 40 laps of the event, the Miller Lite Dodge was at its best. Keselowski was able to race his way into the “Lucky Dog” position that would have placed him back on the lead lap if an opportune caution flag would’ve fallen his way. To the dismay of everyone on the team, no such caution was displayed and Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 16th position.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 13th in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.
Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit in the sixth position in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
“We missed the setup just a little bit on the Miller Lite Dodge and I did a bad job in qualifying,” said Keselowski. “Between the two, that put us behind. We were a 10th- to 15th-place car. On your bad days, a 10th- to 15th-place run isn’t bad. We got behind on track position and got about every bad yellow you could catch after pitting under green. You can’t make up for that when you keep catching those bad breaks. That’s just part of the deal here. Real unfortunate it happened that way, but we did a great job of taking the bad breaks and at least not getting a 20th (-place) day out of it.”
The sixth race for Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team in the 2011 Chase for the Championship will be the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 23. 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.