Keselowski Finishes 13th in First Duel Qualifying Race

February 24, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 23, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 13th in the first 150-mile Duel qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Thursday afternoon. With the finish, Keselowski will start from the 23rd position for the 54th running of the Daytona 500. 

Keselowski started the 60-lap race from the 11th starting spot based on his qualifying run from Sunday afternoon. In similar fashion to Saturday night’s Shootout at Daytona, Keselowski elected to move to the back of the field at the green flag to save his equipment. However, by lap 8, Keselowski had decided to see what he had under the hood of the Miller Lite machine and began making his way through the field. Unfortunately, Keselowski had to maneuver around a wreck that happened right in his path and made slight contact with the outside wall. The resulting damage to the body of the No. 2 was minor, but it knocked out the front toe of the suspension. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver down pit road twice under the yellow flag to make repairs and Keselowski restarted the race from the 14th position at lap 20.

Upon returning to green-flag racing, Keselowski noted that the car felt fine following the repairs on pit road. Once again he moved to the rear of the field to avoid another incident early in the race. After falling behind the lead pack, Keselowski and the No. 99 car of Carl Edwards attempted to hook up in the two-car tandem draft to catch the pack, but they were ultimately unsuccessful.

A caution period at lap 53 gave them an opportunity to rejoin the rest of the field. Wolfe called Keselowski down pit road for the final time at lap 54 for a two-second splash of fuel before the No. 2 car restarted the race from the ninth position at lap 57. Over the final laps of the race, the handling on the Miller Lite Dodge faded a bit and Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 13th position.

Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished eighth in Thursday’s 150-mile qualifying race and will start the Daytona 500 from the 15th position on Sunday.

“We’re still working on the overall balance of the Miller Lite Dodge,” said Keselowski. “It’s changing. We’re learning about it especially with this new spoiler.  It helped to get out there and race in a pack. I think we have a better idea of where our car is at today than before the Duel.”