Keselowski Finishes Second in Pure Michigan 400

August 20, 2012

BROOKLYN, Mich.  (August 19, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished second in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on Sunday afternoon. The Rochester Hills, Mich., native raced at the front of the field for most of the day and had a shot to win at the end, but he couldn’t hold off eventual race winner, Greg Biffle, on the final race restart.

The finish marks the seventh-consecutive top-10 finish for Keselowski, the longest such streak of his young NSCS career. It also marked his second straight runner-up result in 2012.

Keselowski qualified 19th for the scheduled 200-lap event with a time of 36.701 seconds, or 196.180 miles per hour, around the two-mile road oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was handling well on the exit of Turn 4, but slightly tight in traffic. He quickly began to make his way toward the top 10 – which he reached at lap 17 – by turning top-five lap times. At lap 34, Keselowski was the fastest car on the track and as the leaders began to make green-flag pit stops, he assumed the lead at lap 37. Wolfe called his driver down pit road at lap 39 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. When the stops cycled through at lap 47, Keselowski found himself running in the eighth position.

Once again, Keselowski was forced to deal with “dirty” air as he tried to make his way to the front of the field. When the first caution flag of the day waved at lap 65, Keselowski again brought his Miller Lite Dodge to the attention of his pit crew for a two-tire stop that included filling the car with fuel. Good pit work by the Miller Lite crew – a consistent theme throughout the race – resulted in Keselowski restarting the race from the sixth position at lap 74. A fuel-only stop at lap 90 placed the team inside a window to make it to the end of the race on only two additional pit stops. 

The fuel-only stop did not initially mesh with the handling of the Miller Lite Dodge and, as a result, Keselowski was only able to keep his car positioned just outside the top 10 in the running order. However, as the fuel began to burn off, the handling of the car improved and Keselowski started to post lap times faster than the race leader. He once again claimed the lead at lap 127, before pitting for the fourth time at lap 128 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

After green-flag pit stops concluded on lap 130, a caution flag was displayed at lap 136. This dashed the fuel strategy of Wolfe and the team as it reset the field by placing everyone in the same fuel window. By staying out on the racing surface under this caution period, however, Keselowski was able to restart the race from the third position at lap 141 to regain precious track position.

Over the final 50 laps, it became clear that the biggest competition to Keselowski for the race win would be Biffle and Jimmie Johnson. After a great two-tire pit stop under the green flag, at lap 169, Keselowski found himself in front of both drivers as the laps wound down. Johnson was able to make his way around Keselowski on lap 191 and Biffle followed a few laps later. Johnson, however, lost an engine at lap 196 to set up a green-white-checkered flag duel between Biffle and Keselowski over the final two laps. Biffle proved to be too strong as Keselowski crossed the finish line in the second position.

Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish, Jr., finished 12th in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are ranked fifth in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.

“My Miller Lite Dodge team team just did an awesome job just executing on pit road and strategy and everything it takes to make it happen to get us up to the front. We just needed that little bit more speed to be able to get with him (Greg Biffle). I tell you what – it felt good to be racing up there at my home track here at Michigan. There’s nothing I want more than to win here at Michigan and you can feel a little bit of foreshadowing going on with the Chase coming on and those cars running right by each other.”

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 25 in the Irwin Tools Night Race. Keselowski enters the race as the defending winner from 2011. Coverage of the event will be seen live beginning at 7:00 pm EST on ABC. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.