Keselowski Battles Handling Issues, Finishes 26th at Fontana
FONTANA, Calif. (March 27, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 26th in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski struggled with handling issues throughout the event that featured just four caution periods.
After posting a lap of 39.450 seconds, or 182.510 miles per hour, during Friday's qualifying session, Keselowski started the 400-mile race from the 21st position. When the race began, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was loose-handling on entry to the corners, especially on the initial turn off of the wall. Similar to Saturday's Nationwide Series race at ACS, Keselowski began to search around for the line that suited his car the best. By doing so he began to pick up several tenths of a second on the cars around him.
Under a lap 33 green-flag pit stop, Wolfe made an adjustment to the car's wedge, which tightened up the Miller Lite Dodge on the initial turn into the corner. Keselowski radioed that he was happy with the balance of the car, but that he needed more overall grip. Over the first 100 laps, Wolfe and the team made several adjustments to the air pressure, wedge and spring rubber combinations on the No. 2 Miller Lite machine in an attempt to give their driver the feel he needed to race his way to the front. However, the car did not respond the way they had hoped and, as a result, Keselowski could not make up any track position.
Following another green-flag pit stop on lap 139, Keselowski returned to the track with the leader of the race just a few seconds behind. As the handling condition of the No. 2 Dodge transitioned to being loose both entering and exiting the corners, but tight in the middle of the turns, the Penske Racing driver was not able to keep the leader behind him and fell one lap down on lap 145. Keselowski, along with teammate Kurt Busch, raced feverishly to put themselves in position to get the "Lucky Dog" award. While Busch was able to get back on the lead lap following a late-race caution, Keselowski could not catch the necessary break to allow him to do the same. The Miller Lite Dodge and Keselowski took the checkered flag in the 26th position.
Busch finished 17th Sunday in the Auto Club 400.
Following Sunday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 23rd in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
"We were hoping for big things this weekend, but it didn't carry over," said Keselowski. "We've got to go back and think about what we need to do to be able to run up front. We made some small gains during the race, but we had some loses too. At least we were able to bring back the car in one piece."
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will move to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va. for the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on Sunday, April 3.
-source: penske racing