Keselowski Settles For 19th-Place Finish at Charlotte

May 30, 2011

CONCORD, N.C. (May 29, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 19th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) on Sunday evening. Keselowski appeared headed for a top-five finish before late-race contact with the car driven by Kasey Kahne, who ran out of fuel, and Jeff Burton resulted in the Penske Racing driver losing 16 positions over the final two laps.

Keselowski began the 400-mile event, the longest race of the season, from the pole position following a lap of 28.112 seconds, or 192.089 miles per hour, during Thursday's qualifying session. The performance marked the second pole of Keselowski's short NSCS career. As the race began, Keselowski immediately jumped out to a lead over Carl Edwards. Keselowski was able to hold the lead for the first seven laps before settling into the top-five for the first 50 laps despite a tight-handling condition on the Miller Lite Dodge in the center of the CMS corners. Crew chief Paul Wolfe countered with air pressure and track bar adjustments on the No. 2 car that seemed to help during short runs, but never completely fixed the issue.

As the sun began to set behind the grandstands, Keselowski moved his racing line around to find out where his car performed best under the changing track conditions. He radioed to Wolfe that his car was very good through turns 3 and 4, and that he thought the track was coming to him. While still fighting the tight-handling condition, Wolfe and the Miller Lite crew also made spring rubber and wedge adjustments that seemed to pay off. By the 100-lap mark, Keselowski was running lap times as fast as the leaders.

While Keselowski had a fast Miller Lite Dodge, he was aided by a strong No. 2 pit crew throughout the entire event. One of the true turning points of the race was a green-flag pit stop on lap 146. Keselowski came down pit road in the 11th position, but returned to the track in sixth place following a four-tire stop that included a wedge adjustment. Following that pit stop, Keselowski's determination intensified as he began setting himself up to contend for the race win.

At lap 200, the halfway point of the race, Keselowski was running in the 10th position with a car that was still tight in the center of the corners, but one that was capable of turning fast lap times. During pit stops at lap 222 and lap 234, respectively, Wolfe continued his search for the right combination by making more air pressure and spring rubber adjustments. Once again, Keselowski stated that the track seemed to be coming around to the setup underneath the Miller Lite machine.

A lap 282 caution put Keselowski a lap down as he had just visited pit road under the green flag. Wolfe kept his driver on the racing surface to receive a "wave around" that placed him back on the lead lap. When the 10th caution flag of the day flew over the field at lap 295, both Wolfe and Keselowski agreed that they should pit for tires and fuel, which would put them in their fuel window to make it to the checkered flag with just one more stop. A lap 344 caution period gave the Miller Lite Dodge  team the stop it needed to make its final stop before a run to the end of the race. More fast work by the No. 2 pit crew placed Keselowski in the third position on the restart at lap 349.

Keselowski entered fuel conservation mode at lap 382 to ensure he had enough fuel to make it to a "green-white-checkered" flag finish, which is exactly what came to pass as the final caution flag of the day flew at lap 397 to setup the extra laps. With all the cars around him running close on their fuel windows, Keselowski restarted the race from the third position on lap 399. Confident that he had enough fuel to make it to the end, Keselowski got a great restart and looked to have a run that could propel him to the lead. However, the No. 4 car of Kasey Kahne ran out of fuel going into Turn 1, right in front of the Miller Lite Dodge, and Keselowski had nowhere to go. After making contact with the rear bumper of Kahne, Keselowski was tagged in the rear by the No. 31 car of Jeff Burton, which cut down the left rear tire. Keselowski nursed his car home over the final lap to finish the race in the 19th position.

Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished fourth Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600.

Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 25th in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.

"It's disappointing to run as well as we did and have that happen at the end," said Keselowski. "Just disappointing. The Miller Lite Dodge was fast all night. We started on the pole. We ran in the top-10 most of the night. The crew did a great job. It was a total team effort. Unfortunately, we ended up three miles short of a top-five finish."

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete at the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, June 5. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 1:00 pm ET on the FOX network. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 90.