Keselowski Leads Most Laps and Finishes 11th at CMS

October 14, 2012

CONCORD, N.C.  (October 13    , 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 11th in the Bank of America 500 – the fifth race in the 2012 Chase for the Championship – at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Keselowski appeared to have the strongest car, particularly during the middle portion of the race when he led many of his race-high 139 laps. However, the No. 2 machine ran out of fuel at the end on the penultimate run of the race and lost valuable track position that Keselowski was not able to make up as he finished just outside the top 10.

With the result, Keselowski still leads the Chase for the Championship standings by seven points over Jimmie Johnson with five races remaining in the season.

Keselowski started the 334-lap race from the 20th position after posting a time of 28.238 seconds, or 191.225 miles per hour, around the 1.5-mile oval during the Thursday evening qualifying session. As the race began it took the Miller Lite Dodge two laps to build up the air pressure it needed in the Goodyear radials. When the handling of the car came to Keselowski’s liking, he was able to click off laps four tenths of a second faster than the cars in front of him.

A caution period at lap 12 gave Keselowski a chance to assess his chassis. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that the Miller Lite Dodge was handling a bit tight on corner entry, as well as corner exit. Wolfe elected to bring his driver down pit road while the leaders stayed on the track. He called for only a two-tire pit stop with no adjustments before his driver restarted the race from the 24th position at lap 16.

This early pit stop placed Keselowski and the Miller Lite Dodge team on a different pit cycle for the first half of the race. It allowed him to stay out under a lap 36 caution period to assume the lead for the first time on the night. He was able to maintain his position at the front of the field before making a green-flag pit stop at lap 71 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Keselowski found himself running in the 30th spot, but he quickly reassumed the lead when the leaders began to make their pit stops around lap 85.

Keselowski remained off pit sequence from the race leaders until the strategy paid off with a timely caution flag at lap 167. Just prior to another pit stop for the No. 2 Dodge, everyone came down pit road at the same time which reset the field’s track position. During the pit stop Wolfe called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help his driver with a loose-handling condition around the high-speed CMS oval.

Following the pit stop, Keselowski restarted the race from the third position at lap 173. Once again he proved to have a very fast Dodge as he was able to race his way back to the lead at lap 213. During the run he began to save fuel in hopes of making it to the end of the race on only one more pit stop. Keselowski visited pit road at lap 221 for another stop of four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Great pit work by the Miller Lite crew saw Keselowski return to the track with his lead intact as the pit stops cycled through at lap 223.

After building a lead of over one second, Keselowski again went into fuel-conservation mode. While trying to stretch his next-to-last tank one extra lap, he ran out of fuel just past the exit of pit road at lap 276. He was able to coax his Dodge back around to the attention of his pit crew, however it took precious seconds to get the car to re-fire. Keselowski dropped back to 14th place in the running order when the pit stop sequence was completed at lap 282.

Keselowski made a valiant attempt to get back inside the top 10, but he fell one position short as he crossed the line in the 11th position. Keselowski also gained bonus points for leading one lap and leading the most laps.

Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished 15th in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.

“It’s like playing blackjack,” said Keselowski. “Sometimes you’re going to get a good deal but you’re not going to win them all. You know that. You hope that you’re sitting there with 13 and not have a lot of chips in the pile. We didn’t. We didn’t lose too much. We got 11th (place) out of the day where everything kind of fell against us from cautions at the beginning to lack of them at the end. We still put out a respectable effort. It was a good day, led a bunch of laps, which helps for not getting in the top 10. Would like to get those other few spots but you’re not going to catch those breaks every time. We still made the most of it.”  

Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, October 21 in the Hollywood Casino 400 – the sixth race in the 2012 Chase for the Championship. Coverage of the event will be seen live beginning at 1:00 pm EST on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.