Fuel Issues Lead to 36th-Place Finish for Keselowski

April 15, 2012

FORT WORTH, Tex.  (April 14, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 36th in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on Saturday night. Despite having a very fast Miller Lite Dodge, the No. 2 team was plagued by fuel system issues that relegated them to the finish.
Keselowski began the event from the eighth position – his second consecutive top-10 starting spot – based on his qualifying lap of 28.514 seconds, or 189.381 miles per hour, around the high-banked, 1.5-mile oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski immediately radioed that his car was loose-handling under throttle, but was running tight in the center on the TMS corners. He was able to maintain his position inside the top-10 cars, despite being cautious on his tires and equipment. By saving his Goodyear radials, Keselowski was able to maintain consistent speeds whereas the competitors around him saw their times fall of significantly. Keselowski entered pit road for the first time, under the green flag, at lap 47. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called for a slight air pressure adjustment to help the loose-handling condition. Keselowski found himself in the seventh position when the pit stops cycled through at lap 49.
Despite the adjustment, Keselowski still fought an extreme loose condition on the car through corner exit. This eventually built to a loose-handling condition all around the TMS oval. When the first yellow caution flag of the day flew at lap 67, Wolfe wasted no time in bringing his driver down pit road for air pressure and track bar adjustments. More fast work by the Miller Lite pit crew allowed Keselowski to maintain his eighth-place position when the race resumed at lap 72.
The adjustments to the car, coupled with the heavy winds that circled TMS throughout the race, resulted in the handling of the Miller Lite machine to move to the tight side. Another caution flag at lap 94 saw Keselowski again bring the No. 2 Dodge to the attention of his crew. Wolfe elected to reverse the previous track bar adjustment under this stop. When the race resumed at lap 101, Keselowski noted that the two ends of the car were in synch more than they had been up to that point.
Keselowski continued to turn very fast lap times as he raced his way up to the seventh position. Unfortunately, at lap 135, he radioed that his fuel pressure light suddenly came on and he kept losing fuel pressure as he attempted to make it to the next pit stop. Despite losing power in his engine, Keselowski logged lap times that were .5 seconds faster than the race leader. He entered pit road at lap 145, once again under the green flag, for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Shortly after returning to the track, Keselowski radioed that the engine was shutting down due to the fuel problem. He attempted to get by until a caution flag was displayed, but he failed to meet the minimum speed set forth by NASCAR and had to take his Miller Lite Dodge to the garage area for repairs to the fuel system at lap 159. He exited the garage area at lap 168, at that point running eight laps down to the race leaders.
In a cruel twist of fate, once he returned from the garage area, Keselowski was consistently the fastest car on the racetrack. Unfortunately the repairs did not hold up and he returned to the garage at lap 213 as the crew replaced the fuel cell in the No. 2 Dodge. Never one to throw in the towel, Keselowski kept his car on the racing surface until the checkered flag. However, he crossed the finish line in the 36th position, positioned 22 laps down to the top finishers.
Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished 15th in Saturday's Samsung Mobile 500.
"Not exactly sure what happened with the Miller Lite Dodge," said Keselowski. “I could speculate, but we need to get it back to the shop and check everything over. This has been a very frustrating weekend, to say the least. I had two good racecars - cars that could have contended for wins in both (the Cup and Nationwide Series) races - and we have nothing to show for it. I've always said that you have to have raw speed before anything else in this sport, so it is encouraging that we are consistently fast no matter where we go. We just need to clean some things up so that the potential of this team can shine."
Following Saturday's event, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are ranked 15th in the driver point standings and 16th in the owner point rankings.
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, April 22, in the STP 400. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 12:30 pm EST on FOX. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.