Keselowski Leads Laps, Finishes 18th at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 9, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series (NSCS), finished 18th in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on Saturday night. Early in the event, Keselowski led the field for 32 laps – the most laps he has led in one event in his 60-race NSCS career.
After posting a lap of 29.041 seconds, or 185.944 miles per hour, during Friday's qualifying session, Keselowski started the 500-mile race from the 27th position. When the green flag fell to begin the event, Keselowski radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was tight in the center of Turns 1 and 2 but otherwise he was happy with the handling condition of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Hoping to pick up critical track position, Wolfe elected to keep Keselowski on the racetrack when the first caution flag of the day flew on lap 10. Keselowski restarted the race from the second position on lap 15 and quickly moved past his teammate, Kurt Busch, to lead his first race since the Daytona 500 in February. Keselowski would remain there until relinquishing the lead after coming down pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments under a caution period on lap 47.
As the race resumed on lap 52, Keselowski noted that he was extremely happy with the handling of his car in Turn 3 and Turn 4, but he still needed help rotating in the center of the first two turns. To help alleviate this condition he moved up the track and began running the "Darlington Line" all around the racetrack. Keselowski's lap times dramatically improved and the Miller Lite machine quickly became one of the fastest cars on the track as the race moved past the first 100 laps.
Keselowski was able to keep the No. 2 car inside the top-10 as Wolfe continued to work on the handling condition. Following a four-tire stop, however, Keselowski radioed that the car had developed a vibration that he could not diagnose. As a result, Keselowski began to lose track position due to the vibration taking away some of his rear stability. Wolfe called his driver down pit road on lap 163 for four fresh tires, which alleviated the vibration. However, the handling condition was still an issue and, as a result, Keselowski fell one lap down to the race leaders following yet another green-flag pit stop on lap 201.
We just weren't good enough to stay up there, but we weren't bad tonight.
Over the last 100 laps of the race, Keselowski fought hard to race his way into contention for the "Lucky Dog" award to return to lead-lap racing. The team caught back up with the changing track conditions, but the lost track position – both on the racing surface and on pit road – prevented the Miller Lite Dodge from producing a top-10 finish. As the laps wound down, Keselowski radioed that the car was as good as it had been all night but the team ran out of laps before they could make up too much ground on the competitors in front of them.
As Keselowski took the checkered flag in the 18th spot, Busch finished 10th Saturday in the Samsung Mobile 500.
Following Sunday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 22nd in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
"We worked our tail off today; got ourselves some track position early in the race, made the most of it and led some laps," said Keselowski. "That felt really, really good. We just weren't good enough to stay up there, but we weren't bad tonight. We were a 10th- to 15th-place car. We didn't catch any bad breaks, but we didn't catch any good breaks. We needed to do a little bit better on pit road; we lost some spots there we couldn't get back. It was a strong effort. I thought Kurt (Busch) and I were pretty even. He out executed me a little bit and got himself a 10th. That's about where we should have been. That's progress from where we've been, but we've still got a ways to go."
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. for the Aaron's 499 on Sunday, April 17.
-source: team penske