FT. WORTH, Texas. (November 8, 2009) – Brad Keselowski made his Penske Racing debut on Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway with high expectations behind the wheel of the No. 12 Penske Dodge. As the 25-year old talented racer made his way towards the front of the NASCAR Cup Series field in the Dickies 500, he was collected in an incident coming out of turn 2, which effectively ended the hopes for a solid finish by Keselowski and the Penske Dodge team.
Making just his 13th Cup Series start of the season, Keselowski took the green flag for the 500-mile event in the 35th position, but it did not take the No. 12 team long to show it had a machine capable of producing a strong result. Keselowski radioed crew chief Roy McCauley early in the race to explain that the car was handling a bit tight at both ends of the 1.5-mile speedway. The condition didn’t stop Keselowski from passing the competition, however. By lap 80, he had the Penske Dodge positioned in the 25th spot and was gaining ground on the leaders with each lap.
When the caution flag was displayed to the field on lap 86, the No. 12 crew geared up for a pit stop. Keselowski rolled down pit lane on lap 89 for service and the team changed four tires and filled the car with racing fuel. The crew also made both chassis and air pressure adjustments as they tried to dial in the car’s handling for the next green flag run.
By lap 100, the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger was racing inside the top-25 and Keselowski began using the high line on the track to move towards the front. He informed the team that the adjustments helped the car, but it still had a tight-handling condition.
Keselowski was undeterred and was once again on a march towards the front. By lap 150, he had the No. 12 running inside the top-20 and posting lap times as fast as the leaders. Keselowski’s car came to life after 15 laps and he was on a tear past the competition. He rode the white line at the bottom of the high-banked speedway in turns 1 and 2 and then ran the high groove through turns 3 and 4.
On lap 174, the car driven by Carl Edwards spun coming out of turn 2 and made contact with the outside wall. Keselowski did all he could to avoid the incident, but unfortunately the Penske Dodge clipped the No. 99 machine, which caused significant damage to the right front fender of the No. 12. The damage was too extensive to repair on pit lane, so Keselowski took his machine to the garage area. There, the No. 12 team worked feverishly to repair the car so it could return to the racing surface.
Keselowski did rejoin the race and he picked up two valuable positions over the remainder of the event to cross the finish line in 35th place. Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch reached Victory Lane as he captured his second win of the 2009 season, while contact brought an early end to Sam Hornish Jr.’s race as he finished 40th on the day.
“I thought we did a good job today with our Penske Dodge,” commented Keselowski after his first race for the team. “We were caught up in a wreck that took our right front fender off. I think we had a top-15 car, but just got caught up in the wrong spot at the wrong time. That’s racing. I am really proud of all my guys. Congratulations to Kurt [Busch] and the Miller Lite team. That’s a great win for the 2 car and our entire organization. They definitely had a great car tonight.”
Next up, Keselowski and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team moves to Phoenix International Raceway for the second-to-last race of the 2009 season. The Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 will be seen live on Sunday, November 15 on ABC-TV. Race coverage is scheduled to 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 Dickies 500 Statistics
Laps Led: 0