Ironman Effort Gives Keselowski Crucial Win at Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, Pa. (August 7, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), picked up his second win of 2011 in the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski, who earlier in the week had been involved in a serious accident while testing at Road Atlanta, gave his best Willis Reed impersonation as he battled through a fractured ankle and strained back suffered in the crash to secure the victory. In the process, the Penske Racing driver placed himself in the lead for one of the two wild card berths into the 2011 “Chase for the Championship.”
I’m looking forward to years of success here.
Keselowski began the 200-lap event from the 13th position after posting a lap of 52.739 seconds, or 170.652 miles per hour, during Saturday’s qualifying session. From the moment the green flag flew, Keselowski believed his Miller Lite Dodge could win as he quickly raced his way inside the top 10. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that he was losing forward drive exiting the three corners that make up the “Tricky Triangle.” Two quick caution periods within the first 20 laps gave Wolfe and the Miller Lite team an early opportunity to make adjustments to the air pressure in the Goodyear radials to help the car’s performance. Fast work by the No. 2 pit crew maintained Keselowski’s track position inside the top 10.
Following the second caution period, the race settled into a long, green-flag run, during which Keselowski made two pit stops for adjustments to air pressure and track bar as he was still dealing with a lack of forward drive. Despite the lack of grip on corner exit, Keselowski was able to turn some of the fastest laps on the track. However, as so often is the case with green flag stops at two-and-a-half mile tracks, the field became too spread out for much ground to be made up in the running order. When a caution flag waved for the third time at lap 100, Keselowski found himself running in the 10th position. Wolfe called for a wedge adjustment under the caution period and the race resumed with Keselowski back in the 10th position.
With rain showers threatening to delay the event, Wolfe made one of the key moves of the race when he brought Keselowski down pit road at lap 122 for four tires, fuel and the removal of a left rear spring rubber. Keselowski returned to the track just as rain drops began to fall. The race was red-flagged for nearly two hours due to the weather with Keselowski in the 24th position. However, he and Wolfe knew that the rest of the field would need to visit pit road once the track was dried and the red flag was lifted, which would give them a tremendous advantage in track position. When the race resumed under the green flag, Keselowski found himself in the lead for the first time on the day.
Despite the fact that he relinquished the lead after a few laps, Keselowski radioed that his car was at its best over the final 50 laps of the race. For several three-lap intervals, the Miller Lite machine was the fastest car on the track. Keselowski visited pit road for the final time on lap 173, as he needed a good stop by his pit crew to keep him in position for the win. The Miller Lite crew responded with one of their best stops of the day and Keselowski returned to the track in the second position.
The final caution of the event came at lap 180, during which Wolfe elected to keep Keselowski on the racing surface to maintain second place. The race resumed at lap 185 and Keselowski wasted little time in taking his car to the front of the pack. He and the No. 18 car driven by Kyle Busch distanced themselves from the rest of the field over the final 14 laps. Keselowski battled with Busch to the end and held him off to secure his second win of the season.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished third in Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500.
Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team improved to 18th in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
“We had a fast Miller Lite Dodge Charger today and I was really good coming off of Turn 3,” said Keselowski. “(Crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) worked on this car and made it better all day. I knew that if we got out front on that last restart, we’d be tough to catch. I had a mirror full of the 18 car, (but) our Dodge was just a little bit better today. Runs like this are great and show that we can do it. I’ve got a good teammate in Kurt, he helped me out. It takes people like that and people on this team working together. It’s really turned around (at) Penske Racing. It’s made it something that I’m really proud to be a part of and I’m looking forward to years of success here.”