Strong Showing Ends with Accident for Keselowski at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 20, 2011) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 29th in the 53rd Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski led nine laps in the race and displayed a strong car throughout the laps in which he competed. However, contact from behind from another competitor on lap 167 sent the Penske Racing driver and the Miller Lite Dodge into the outside wall and out of the race.
The first Cup Series race on the new surface at DIS featured two NASCAR records with 74 lead changes and 22 race leaders. The prior lead change mark was 60, set in the 1974 Daytona 500.
Keselowski started the 200-lap race from the 16th position after finishing seventh in Thursday's second 150-mile Duel race. When the race began, Keselowski immediately began to search for a partner to help execute the two-car draft. He would work with several drivers over the course of the event in an effort to pick up his first Daytona 500 win. After a caution on lap four gave crew chief Paul Wolfe an opportunity to call Keselowski down pit road for a fuel-only stop, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge driver was able to remain on track during the subsequent caution on lap 11. This allowed Keselowski to restart the race from the lead -- his first of the race -- on lap 16.
On lap 41, Keselowski used a push from Regan Smith, who helped push Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch to victory in Thursday's first Duel race, to regain the top spot. After relinquishing the lead as the two drivers swapped positions in the draft, Keselowski was able to remain inside the top-10 through the first 50 laps.
As the race moved into the second 50-lap sequence, Keselowski hooked up with the No. 27 of Paul Menard. The two cars seemed to work well together and Keselowski continued to run inside the top-10. After a lap 76 caution period, Keselowski began to work with the No. 14 car of Tony Stewart. The two ran just outside the top-10 as they chose to race intelligently while letting the first half of the race play out.
While caution flags marred the second half of the race -- 16 caution periods for a total of 60 laps also set a new NASCAR record -- Keselowski kept moving toward the front of the field. After working extensively with the No. 7 Dodge of Robby Gordon, Gordon accidentally made contact with the rear bumper of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Hard contact with the outside wall wound up ending the day prematurely for Keselowski.
Busch, in his attempt to become the first driver to win the Shootout, Duel and Daytona 500, finished in fifth place.
Following Sunday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 27th in the Cup Series driver points standings and 29th in the owner point rankings.
"It's just a late-race deal where everyone is just a little bit too aggressive to be pushing that hard," said Keselowski. "Robby (Gordon) did his best to try and help me move up. It's one of those deals where I had two packs of cars in front of me and I needed just a little bit of help. It wasn't Robby's fault. Our Dodge's worked really well together today and moved up to sixth or seventh and started to make a move. My Miller Lite Dodge Charger was really fast. We had a really strong car today. We just got caught up in a wreck."
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will move to Phoenix International Raceway next Sunday, February 27, for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Coverage can be seen live beginning at 3 pm EST on the FOX network. The race can also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128
-source: penske racing