Atlanta II: Brad Keselowski race report

Keselowski Posts 25th-Place Finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway HAMPTON, Ga. (September 5, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 25th in the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor ...

Keselowski Posts 25th-Place Finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, Ga. (September 5, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 25th in the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) on Sunday night. The first-year Penske Racing driver faced grip issues all night on the ultra-abrasive AMS surface, but he was still able to salvage a solid result.

Keselowski began the 325-lap event from the 28th position -- the same spot in which he started the spring race at AMS -- by virtue of his qualifying lap of 30.083 seconds, or 184.290 mph, during Saturday's time trials. One of the features that makes AMS a favorite track of the drivers is its multiple grooves. Keselowski wasted little time in moving to the "high" line by lap 5 as he searched for a path that would help his car turn better in the center of the corners. As the leaders set a fast race pace early in the event, Keselowski fell a lap down by lap 41.

The first half of the race was highlighted by a 132-lap, green-flag run that provided little relief for Keselowski's ill-handling chassis. The team's first two pit stops were made under the green flag as crew chief Jay Guy made a myriad of adjustments to the track bar, wedge and air pressure to help the car's handling. However, as Keselowski continued to race hard to put himself in position for the "Lucky Dog Free Pass" back to lead-lap racing, the handling of the No. 12 Penske Dodge did not improve.

As the race moved toward the halfway point, Keselowski radioed that his car had lost overall grip on the rough racing surface. As Keselowski made his way down pit road on lap 150, Guy called for an adjustment to the left-side of the track bar, in addition to a typical right-side track bar adjustment. Keselowski relayed that the adjustment resulted in significant improved handling, especially late in a tire run. He began to turn some of his fastest lap times of the evening in the Penske Dodge.

During another round of green-flag pit stops on lap 252, Keselowski was penalized for speeding on the entrance to pit road. Though the infraction is normally assessed as a pass-through penalty, another caution flag flew before Keselowski could make his way down pit road. He was allowed to restart the race at the end of the longest line instead of serving a pass-through penalty, which allowed Keselowski to remain just one lap down to the leaders.

When the sixth caution flag of the race flew on lap 265, Keselowski and Guy hoped to stay on the track to get a "wave around" pass that would put the No. 12 Penske Dodge back on the lead lap. However, not all of the lead-lap cars made their way down pit road, so Guy called his driver onto pit lane for a new set of Goodyear radials.

In the later stages of the race, a loose-handling condition developed on the chassis of the No. 12 Dodge. As Keselowski exited Turn 2 on the 296th lap, he lost control of his car and nearly made contact with the outside retaining wall. However, he was able to keep his machine off the wall and suffered no damage to the body of the car. Keselowski battled the loose condition until he crossed the finish line in 25th place.

Keselowski and the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team sit 26th in the driver point standings and 27th in the owner point standings following Sunday's result.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. finished in sixth and 30th place, respectively, as Busch secured a spot in the Chase.

"I thought that we were going to be a little better than we were," said Keselowski. "We just missed it a little bit tonight with our Penske Dodge. When the track went to night time, our car just didn't get faster like I thought it would. Congratulations to Kurt and the No. 2 team for making the Chase. A well deserved effort by all those guys on that team."

The No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team will move to Richmond International Raceway next weekend for the second time this season.

-source: penske racing

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