Keselowski Finishes Ninth in Goody's Fast Relief 500
RIDGEWAY, Va. (April 1, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished ninth in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski looked to have a car that could contend for his second win of the season before a late-race chain of events resulted in him falling back in the finishing order while he still emerged with top-10 result.
Keselowski began the event from the seventh position – his second consecutive top-10 starting spot at the Virginia bullring – based on his qualifying lap of 19.572 seconds, or 96.750 miles per hour, around the half-mile oval during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. As the race began, Keselowski patiently waited for the crowd of racecars to separate from each other around the tight track, as he also allowed the air pressure in his Goodyear radials to rise to where the handling condition would become more to his liking. After 15 laps, the Miller Lite machine came to life and Keselowski quickly made his way toward the front of the pack. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was running slightly tight in the center of the corners, but he was happy with the overall handling of the No. 2 Dodge.
The first caution flag of the day flew at lap 98, giving Wolfe an opportunity to apply track bar and air pressure adjustments to give Keselowski the feel he needed. Following the stop, Keselowski restarted the race from the fourth position at lap 105. Following the pit stop, Keselowski noted that the Miller Lite Dodge turned better in the center of the corners, but the car was now too loose on corner entry. Keselowski surrendered several positions due to this condition, but after adjusting his driving style, he made his way back inside the top five when green-flag pit stops began at lap 236. When the pit stops cycled through, Keselowski was scored in the eighth position. He fell a few spots on pit road due to being too close to the inside wall, which hampered the efforts of the No. 2 pit crew.
As the race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski once again raced his way inside the top five due to a consistently-fast Miller Lite Dodge. A caution flag at lap 315 gave Wolfe and the team another chance to improve a chassis that was still too tight just past the center of the turns. Following another track bar and air pressure adjustment, Keselowski was penalized for speeding upon leaving his pit stall. As a result, he restarted the race at the end of the longest line, in 14th-place, at lap 329.
Keselowski surgically moved through the field as the handling condition improved on the No. 2 Dodge. By lap 409, Keselowski was the fastest car on the track as he was positioned just outside the top five in sixth place. As he entered the top five at lap 413, it became evident that Keselowski had pushed his car to the limit as he worked his way back to the front of the field. He was content with holding off the No. 39 car of Ryan Newman for fifth-place over the final laps before the wild finish ensued.
As the No. 10 machine of David Reutimann came to a stop on the racing surface to bring out a caution flag at lap 498, Keselowski and Wolfe elected to pit for two left-side tires for the upcoming green-white-checkered finish. Great pit work by the Miller Lite crew resulted in Keselowski restarting the race from the fourth position at lap 504. The race, however, would only stay under the green flag for half a lap before a wreck, involving the race leaders, caused the final caution of the day. Keselowski was originally scored in the second position following the incident, but after further review of the caution, he was placed in the seventh spot at the restart. Unfortunately he could not hold onto that position as he crossed the finish line in ninth place.
Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished second in Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500.
"My gut says we should have been a lot further ahead of where we were allowed to restart," said Keselowski. "I don't have all the info, so it was one of those deals. I'm proud of my team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Dodge. We've got a lot of good momentum. That stuff is going to go good or bad. You'll get the good ones and you'll get the bad ones. Today, we got the bad side of it. If we keep having runs like that, we'll get more wins."