Keselowski Finishes 13th at Michigan

June 18, 2012

BROOKLYN, Mich.  (June 17, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 13th in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski, who hails from Rochester Hills, Mich., displayed one of the fastest cars on the racetrack at times, but one sequence of events hampered his ability to garner a win at his home track.

Keselowski started the 200-lap event from the 25th position based on his qualifying lap of 36.28 seconds, or 198.473 miles per hour, around the two-mile oval during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. Mother Nature made her presence felt just prior to the start of the event as rain delayed the green flag by two hours. As the race began, Keselowski radioed that the track lacked grip just after the No. 51 car of Kurt Busch spun on the first lap to bring out the first caution flag of the day. Crew chief Paul Wolfe elected not to bring Keselowski down pit road until the first of two NASCAR-mandated competition cautions at lap 25. Keselowski received fuel, two tires and an air pressure adjustment on his first stop before he restarted the race in the 18th position at lap 31.

Once the green flag waved to restart the event it was clear that the adjustments had the desired effect on the tight-handling condition of the Miller Lite Dodge, especially on the entry of the MIS corners. By lap 43, Keselowski had raced his way into the top 10. However, at lap 47, the Miller Lite crew held their breath as Keselowski radioed that he had lost oil pressure. Further investigation revealed no issues with the engine, however, and Keselowski finished the race without any problems. Another competition caution at lap 50 gave Wolfe an opportunity to make another two-tire stop with an air pressure adjustment to continue to give his driver a comfortable racecar. Following great pit work by the Miller Lite crew, Keselowski restarted the race in the third position at lap 56.

As the race moved toward the halfway point, Keselowski was able to keep his car at the front of the field despite the fact that the handling became challenging on the No. 2 machine. At lap 105, he radioed to Wolfe that his car had become “completely loose” with a small vibration. Keselowski visited pit road on lap 110 for four tires and fuel. Once he returned to the racing surface, Wolfe observed that the right-rear tire was blistered, which caused the loose-handling condition on the Miller Lite machine.

As the team was waiting on pit stops to recycle to get back to lead-lap racing, the caution flag was displayed to catch Keselowski a lap down. He was able to get the wave-around pass to get back on the lead lap, but it hampered his ability to improve his track position if the race continued under the green flag. Another caution flag waved at lap 126, during which Wolfe brought Keselowski down pit road for fuel as this put the team in a window to make it to the end of the race on one more stop. Keselowski restarted the race in the 17th position at lap 33.

Keselowski again showed good speed following the restart. He was able to drive his way up to the 15th position at lap 161, despite a chassis that continued to become looser as the run progressed. Wolfe elected to adopt a “long-pit” strategy for the final pit stop of the day, in an effort to maximize track position. Keselowski visited pit lane, for the last time, under the green flag at lap 170 for two tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As the pit stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself again in the 17th position. He was able to make his way up to 13th before the checkered flag.

Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished 19th in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

Following Sunday’s finish, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team remain ranked 10th in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.??

“We made a lot of progress from where the weekend started and I think we were better than a 13th-place Miller Lite Dodge,” said Keselowski.” We worked through some things that were a bit of a struggle. I think all-in-all our car was very respectable. We kind of fought some bad breaks and I felt like we were probably a fifth to 10th-place car and came home with a 13th. That’s kind of been the story of our last few weeks. We’ve fought through a lot of bad breaks; some of them just luck and some of them self-inflicted and we’ve been able to get finishes that you can’t cry about. I feel like when we get a little bit of speed in our cars and when I execute just a little bit better we’ll get ourselves back in victory lane. I can’t be happy with a 13th-place day but I can certainly think about how it can be worse.”

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at the Sonoma, Calif., road course on Sunday, June 24, in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 2:00 pm EST on TNT. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.