Keselowski Finishes 20th in Coca-Cola 600 Debut

May 31, 2010

CONCORD, N.C. (May 30, 2010) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 20th in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS). Early-race contact with another competitor on pit road ultimately prevented Keselowski from garnering a top finish.

Keselowski qualified his car in the 37th position during Thursday night’s time trials, but he made hard contact with the outside wall on his second qualifying lap. This forced the team to unload the backup car and, as a result, Keselowski had to start the race from the rear of the field.

As the race began, Keselowski started to slice his way through the field. By the 25th lap, he had the No. 12 Penske Dodge inside the top-25 cars. As was the case in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Charlotte, the first pit stop of the day came under the green flag, this time on lap 49. No adjustments were made to the Penske Dodge as crew chief Jay Guy elected to allow the sun to completely set before attempting to improve the car’s handling as the track conditions would change dramatically throughout the 400-lap race.

A two-tire pit stop under a lap 90 caution placed Keselowski firmly inside the top-10, in the seventh position, when the race resumed. As the race moved past the 100-lap mark, the sun had dropped behind the grandstands at CMS. As a result, Keselowski’s car developed a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners. He could not hold his spot at the front of the field and settled in to the 20th position on lap 130.

Guy began to formulate a strategy for the adjustments he would implement when the fifth caution flag of the day flew on lap 168. As Keselowski made his way towards his pit box, however, he was hit in the left front fender by the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch. Extensive damage to the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger had to be repaired and this kept the team from making the proper adjustments needed to alleviate the tight-handling condition. After two trips down pit road for repairs, Keselowski restarted the race in the 21st position on lap 172.

The great repair work by the No. 12 crew was evident as Keselowski began turning very fast lap times. On lap 192 he was able to turn a lap that was faster than the race leader. As he raced his way back inside the top-20, Keselowski radioed that the No. 12 machine was dropping water pressure. A lap 272 caution gave the team a good opportunity to go under the hood and attempt to repair the problem. Despite the numerous trips down pit road, the team was still able to keep Keselowski on the lead lap.

Keselowski continued to race in the top half of the 43-car field as the event moved into its final 100 laps. Looking to gain valuable bonus points during a lap 300 caution period, Guy instructed Keselowski to remain on the track to pick up five points for leading a lap before he called his down pit road for adjustments.

Over the final 100 laps, Keselowski worked to put himself in position for a top-20 finish. He was penalized for speeding while getting on to pit road under a lap 378 caution period and he had to serve a drive-through penalty, which forced him to restart the race from the 25th position on lap 381. In his usual hard-charging fashion, Keselowski was able to pick up five crucial spots before taking the checkered flag for his eighth top-20 finish of the year. Keselowski is now ranked 25th in the Cup Series point standings.

“A really strong night for our Penske Dodge,” said Keselowski. “To come back like we did after the pit road incident is a credit to all the guys on this team. They worked hard to keep our car on the lead lap despite the left-side damage. To get a top-20 finish out of this is incredible. A hard fought race for sure.” 

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished first and 17th, respectively. Busch became the seventh driver in NASCAR history to sweep both the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same year.

The No.12 Penske Dodge team will move to the Keystone State of Pennsylvania for the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 presented by Target at Pocono Raceway. The race will be seen live on Sunday, June 6 on TNT beginning at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The event will also be heard live on MRN Radio, as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.


Brad Keselowski Coca-Cola 600 Race Statistics
Start: 37
Finish: 20    
Laps: 400/400
Laps Led: 2 
Status: Running
Points Position: 25