TALLADEGA, Ala. (May 6, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), picked up his sixth-career victory – and his second of 2012 – in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway (TSS) on Sunday afternoon. The victory marked the first for Penske Racing at the 2.66-mile oval and the first for Dodge since Dave Marcis won for the manufacturer in August of 1976.
Keselowski began the event from the 13th position based on his qualifying lap of 50.381 seconds, or 190.072 miles per hour, around the TSS oval during the Saturday morning qualifying session. When the green flag flew to start the event, the field immediately began to race in packs, instead of the two-car tandem that had come to define restrictor-plate racing over the last two seasons. In a pre-determined strategy, Keselowski elected to keep his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge at the front of the field, instead of dropping back in the running order for a conservative approach. By lap six he had cracked the top 10 competitors on track, despite a loose-handling condition on the Miller Lite machine when another car was positioned on the outside of the “Blue Deuce.” When the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 16, Keselowski found himself running in the sixth position. Crew chief Paul Wolfe elected to make no adjustments on the pit stop and Keselowski restarted the race in the seventh position at lap 21.
At Talladega, patience is a bit of an oxymoron because you know you’ve got to go hard to win this race.
After the stop, it took less than a lap for Keselowski to enter the top five as the field continued to entertain the crowd with thrilling side-by-side racing. He kept the Miller Lite Dodge near the front of the field through green-flag pit stops at lap 58. As several other competitors fell out of the event due to engine issues, the Penske Racing power plant in the No. 2 Dodge continued to push Keselowski to the front.
As the field began to make its way down pit road around lap 100, under the green flag, the Miller Lite pit crew performed an outstanding pit stop that placed Keselowski in the second position as the stops cycled through. Keselowski, the 2009 Talladega race winner, was able to continue his restrictor-plate mastery as he rarely fell outside of the top five for the remainder of the race.
Similar to Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, a lap 185 caution period insured the race would end with an extra lap in a green-white-checkered flag finish. Keselowski restarted the race in the second position at lap 193. At the drop of the green flag, he received a strong push from the No. 18 car driven by Kyle Busch. As the two distanced themselves from the rest of the field, Keselowski broke the two-car draft and pulled away from Busch for the victory.
Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished in 15th place in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.
“At Talladega, patience is a bit of an oxymoron because you know you’ve got to go hard to win this race,” said Keselowski, who also won at Bristol earlier his year. “It was great racing. It was awesome. I think it was a perfect combination of the tandem and the pack racing. It just fit our Miller Lite Dodge perfect. It was just really strong with that combo. My guys did a great job all weekend.”
Following Sunday’s event, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are ranked 12th in the Sprint Cup Series driver point standings and 13th in the owner point rankings.