Keselowski Rebounds for Top-Five Finish at Phoenix

March 5, 2012

AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 4, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished fifth in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) on Sunday afternoon. The result marked the 12th career Cup Series top-five finish for the young driver as he improved 17 positions in the point standings.

Keselowski began the 312-lap event from the 28th position based on his qualifying lap of 27.127 seconds, or 132.709 miles per hour, during Saturday qualifying. As the race began, Keselowski immediately radioed that his car had excellent forward drive, particularly off Turn 4, but he needed help turning in the center of the corners. In an effort to gain track position, crew chief Paul Wolfe left his driver on the racing surface when the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 16. This proved to be one of many great calls on the day by Wolfe as Keselowski restarted the race from the seventh position at lap 20. He would remain at the front of the field for the rest of the event.

Following air pressure and track bar adjustments during a yellow-flag pit stop at lap 60, the handling of the car became more to Keselowski’s liking. He turned the fastest lap of anyone on the track at lap 105. He radioed that the car was much improved, but the Miller Lite machine then became a bit too loose on corner entry. A lap 111 pit stop gave Wolfe an opportunity for more air pressure adjustments. Thanks to a great pit stop by the Miller Lite crew – a consistent theme during Sunday’s race – Keselowski restarted the event from the third position at lap 118.

As the race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski maintained his position inside the top five. As the field began to make green flag pit stops near lap 185, Keselowski secured the lead of the race. He held the top spot for three laps before entering pit road for service. When the green-flag stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself in the third position at lap 209.

The Miller Lite Dodge made its final pit stop of the afternoon under the yellow flag at lap 229, and Keselowski displayed some very determined racing for the remainder of the event. He began to make the high line on the PIR surface work to his advantage, including a particularly strong move following a lap 260 restart where he briefly took the lead before charging Turn 3 too hard as he allowed the No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin to regain the top spot. Over the final 30 laps of the event, some of the best racing took place between Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch as they all fought for a top-five finish. Keselowski was able to grab one as he crossed the finish line in the fifth position.

Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished 18th in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500.

“A bit of an up-and-down day that ended in an up motion,” said Keselowski. “I got to racing really well there at the end. On the last restart, I just about busted my butt going into (Turn) 3; that was pretty hairy, but we were digging trying to win the race. It just wasn’t meant to be. I thought that we had a great day to bring the Miller Lite Dodge home fifth and that’s something to be proud of. Obviously, we wanted four spots more. A great effort by this team and great pit strategy really helped us today. A little bit more speed and I think that we can bring home a win.”

Following Sunday’s event, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are ranked 12th in the driver and owner point standings.

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will move on to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday, March 11, for the Kobalt Tools 400. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 2:30 pm EST on FOX. The race can also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.