Keselowski Finishes 36th at Atlanta After Spectacular Crash

March 7, 2010

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 7, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 36th in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday. A potential top-five finish was cut short when Keselowski was involved in a scary crash near the end of the race. The event went 16 laps past the scheduled distance as the conclusion was marred by a variety of caution periods. 

Keselowski took the green flag Sunday afternoon from the 28th position. Early on, he radioed to crew chief Jay Guy to report that he was happy with the handling of the Penske Dodge. Keselowski decided that his car was best when running the high line around the 1.54-mile oval and he quickly began to make his way around the cars in front of him. By lap 33, Keselowski was positioned comfortably inside the top-20 in the running order. 

On lap 64, while running in the 17th position, the No. 12 Dodge made minor contact with the outside wall. The damage resulted in a tight-handling condition. Under the next caution period on lap 79, Guy made the necessary adjustments to “free” the car up while the pit crew repaired the minor body damage. Keselowski restarted the race from the 31st position, but his car would become one of the fastest on the track for the rest of the race. 

On lap 115, Keselowski had driven back inside the top-20 and he was turning lap times comparable to those of the leaders. Keselowski’s No. 12 Dodge Charger was solid on long green-flag runs as he made his first entry into the top-10 on lap 167. The third-season Cup Series driver showed the awareness of a veteran as he radioed that he felt a vibration in the car on lap 204. Guy called him down pit road for a fast change of tires and the crew discovered that the right front tire that had worn excessively. This “short pit” strategy paid off as Keselowski found himself running in the fourth position once the pit stop sequence had cycled through. He would remain inside the top-six cars for most of the remainder of the race as the team looked destined for a finish that would catapult it higher in the point standings. 

After his final pit stop of the day on lap 289, Keselowski remarked that his car was “the best it had been all day.” The pit crew had put in a spectacular day of work to keep the Penske Dodge at the front of the field and Keselowski looked as if he had one of the cars to beat. As he made his way off of Turn 4 on lap 324, Keselowski’s car was hit by the machine driven by Carl Edwards. As a result of the contact, the No. 12 Dodge Charger turned backwards before it became airborne and landed on the outside wall. While the crash was frightening, Keselowski was able to walk away under his own power.   

Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch won his second consecutive March race at Atlanta, while Sam Hornish, Jr. finished 28th.

Following the fourth race of the season, Keselowski is ranked 33rd in the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings.

“Congratulations to Kurt and everyone on the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team,” said Keselowski. “They were strong all day. All of the Penske Racing cars were strong and we should be proud of that. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the finish we deserved, but we made a lot of progress today. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come for the rest of the year. No driver wants to get up in the air, like I did, and I’m just glad that no fans were hurt.”
The No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team will have next weekend off before heading to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. The race will be seen live on Sunday, March 21, on the FOX television network beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The event will also be heard live on PRN Radio, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.