Keselowski Fights His Way to a Third Place Finish
March 3, 2014
The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (one-mile speedway, Avondale, Ariz.)
The No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford
· Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford Fusion team started Sunday’s 312-lap race from the top position after Keselowski earned the pole during NASCAR’s first-ever Sprint Cup Series elimination qualifying on Friday afternoon. Keselowski broke the track record as he earned his fourth career Sprint Cup Series pole.
· The No. 2 Team Penske Ford team featured an interim crew chief for the Phoenix race as Paul Wolfe left the track Saturday morning to return home for the birth of his first child. Greg Erwin, Team Penske’s Nationwide Series Competition Director and a former crew chief, stepped in for Wolfe during Sunday’s race.
· Leading the field to the green flag with an all Team Penske front row, Keselowski took the inside line as teammate Joey Logano made a pass for the lead on the first lap.
· Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion, settled into the second position for the next 34 laps until a NASCAR-mandated competition caution flag was displayed to slow the field.
· During the caution, the Alliance Truck Parts Ford came to pit road on lap 37 for two right side tires and the No. 2 crew topped the car off with fuel. The well-executed stop and strategy resulted in the Alliance Truck Parts machine reclaiming the race lead.
· As the race began a green-flag run that lasted over 100 laps, the Rochester Hills, Michigan native reported that the car was handling loose on corner entry, tight in the center and loose exiting the turns. As Keselowski battled the ill-handling machine, he slipped to fourth in the running order.
· The Alliance Truck Parts pit crew made adjustments to the Ford Fusion over the course of the afternoon, which kept Keselowski running inside top five for the majority of the race.
· A series of late-race cautions opened the door for Keselowski to fight his way up to third place as the checkered flag flew.
· Keselowski’s fourth top-six finish in the last five Phoenix races marked his second consecutive top-three result in two races this season. He is now second in the series standings and he trails leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. by just six points heading into next week’s race at Las Vegas.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
BRAD KESELOWSKI, NO. 2 ALLIANCE TRUCK PARTS FORD
THIS IS YOUR SECOND CONSECUTIVE TOP-THREE FINISH TO START THE SEASON. HOW DID THE RACE DEVELOP FOR YOU?
“It feels good to run up front and be competitive. We know under this system wins are the only things that count. Last year you would have said second and thirds were great but this year they are just so-so. We were close. I could see it the whole race and I think (on) some of the long run stuff we were just as good as anybody but then the short run stuff we were just kind of okay. It was a good run either way and something to be proud of and hang our hat on. We just know we have to be a little better and move on from here.”
THIS RACE SEEMED INTENSE ALMOST EVERY SINGLE LAP, ESPECIALLY THE LAST COUPLE OF LAPS. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE TIGHT RACING AT THE END, ESPECIALLY WITH EARNHARDT JR.?
“I thought we were going to wreck each other twice and didn't. That was good, I guess. I would have had a lot of people mad at me if I would have done that. I saw all the fans jumping on their feet when they thought he had a shot at winning. I thought it was pretty cool. Cup racing is the best of the best. You can't really afford to take a lap off with these cars because you just drive them so hard.”
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