Darlington: Brad Keselowski race report

Keselowski Finishes 12th at Darlington DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 12th in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night. The...

Keselowski Finishes 12th at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 12th in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night. The finish tied his best result since making the move to Penske Racing towards the end of the 2009 season.

Keselowski qualified the Penske Dodge in the ninth position -- his second consecutive top-10 starting spot -- during Friday's qualifying session. He toured the 1.366-mile oval in 27.498 seconds or 178.835 miles per hour. That represented an improvement of over .5-of-a-second from his time in the final practice session.

After grabbing a top-10 finish in his first Darlington start in 2009, Keselowski looked to have a car capable of duplicating that feat in the early portions of the race as he radioed crew chief Jay Guy to report that this was the team's "best start to a race this season." Keselowski was able to keep the No. 12 Penske Dodge inside the top-10 until he came down pit road for adjustments, under a caution-flag period, on lap 45.

As the race resumed on lap 53, the handling of the No. 12 Dodge gradually began to become loose, especially through the center of turn 3. Keselowski adopted the mantra of "race the racetrack" that has become synonymous with Darlington Raceway as Guy began to develop a plan to give his driver the security he needed around the tricky, egg-shaped oval. On the team's fourth pit stop of the night, Guy called for aggressive changes to the spring rubbers in both rear springs. As Keselowski returned to action, he had one of the fastest cars on the track and he began to set his sights on driving his way back inside the top-15.

On lap 215, Keselowski commented that the Penske Dodge was once again handling well, similar to the start of the 367-lap event. However, several caution flags prevented the driver from receiving the green flag runs that he needed to gain positions. As the race moved into the latter stages, the track conditions began to cool down and Keselowski had to deal with a tight-handling car. Adjusting the line he used to get around the track, Keselowski began to click off times that were comparable to the race leaders.

Part of Guy's strategy included setting Keselowski up for a two-tire stop on the team's final trip down pit road, which came on lap 343. Great work by the No. 12 pit crew, who were solid all night, placed Keselowski in the 10th position on the restart. However, he was unable to hold off two of the cars behind him while trying to secure his first top-10 finish of the season.

"It's a solid finish," said Keselowski. "I wanted a top-10 so bad. We should have finished 11th, but was going for 10th and made a little mistake that dropped me a spot. We did all that we could. I wanted a top-10, but it's also important to get those driver points."

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished third and 31st, respectively.

Following the 11th race of the season, Keselowski moved up one spot and currently sits 25th in the 2010 NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings.

The No.12 Penske Dodge team will move to the state of Delaware for the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes at Dover International Speedway next weekend.

-source: penske

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Brad Keselowski , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske