Keselowski Battles Handling Issues, Finishes 36th at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series (NSCS), finished 36th in the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Saturday night. After dealing with an ill-handling car for much of the event, a late-race spin prevented Keselowski from challenging for his best finish of the season.
After posting a lap of 21.092 seconds, or 128.011 miles per hour, during Friday's qualifying session, Keselowski started the 400-lap race from the seventh position, which marked the best qualifying effort of the season for the Miller Lite team. When the green flag waved to begin the event, Keselowski fought hard to keep his track position and began to set his sights on entering the top-five. Early in the initial run Keselowski began to turn laps as fast as the race leader, but after 30 laps the Miller Lite machine began to develop a tight-handling condition. As the issue began to get worse over the course of the run, Keselowski did his best to search around for a line that would suit his car. However, the race settled in to a long green-flag run and Keselowski lost significant track position, eventually falling one lap down to the race leader. Crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver down pit road earlier than anticipated for an adjustment to the track bar and air pressure, as well as fuel and tires. As the pit stops cycled through, Keselowski found himself back on the lead lap.
With the fresh Goodyear radials, Keselowski again started turning competitive laps. As earlier in the race, the car began to fall off and Keselowski again fell one lap down to the leaders. However, he was able to keep his car in position for the "Lucky Dog" award back to lead-lap racing, which he received following a lap 107 caution period. Wolfe once again called for major changes to the setup of the Miller Lite Dodge to help alleviate the handling problems as the crew adjusted the air pressure, grille tape and front shock packer. Despite all the adjustments, nothing helped the overall performance of the No. 2 Dodge and Keselowski fell one lap down again during the subsequent run.
The first 186 laps of the race featured only two caution periods, but the yellow flags began to increase in frequency during the second half. On lap 278, the No. 09 of Landon Cassill made inadvertent contact with the left rear of the Miller Lite Dodge, sending Keselowski spinning off of Turn 2. After a four-tire stop under caution, Keselowski himself spun coming off of Turn 4 on lap 291. This left the Penske Racing driver with four flat tires and a car that wouldn't roll down pit road. Instead of dropping Keselowski in his pit stall, the tow truck that assisted Keselowski dropped him behind pit road. The team lost nine laps as the crew frantically ran to their driver to begin changing the tires. The team got Keselowski back on the racing surface on lap 301, but at that point the Miller Lite machine was positioned more than 10 laps down to the race leaders.
Keselowski crossed the finish line in the 36th spot while Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 22nd Saturday in the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 28th in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
"We had an awesome Miller Lite Dodge on short runs all night, but not on the long runs and that's what we faced the first half of the race," said Keselowski. "You've got to have a car that does both and we just didn't have it tonight. Coming into the race, we felt we could run strong and we did. We qualified well and did well on short runs, but we were way off on the long-run stuff."
-source: penske racing