Dover International Speedway
Keselowski Finishes 13th at Dover
DOVER, Del. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 13th in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway (DIS) on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski appeared headed for a top-10 finish before handling issues, and a pit road mishap, cost him several positions before taking the checkered flag.
Persistent rain showers in the Dover area washed out the Saturday qualifying session. Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge lined up in the ninth position to start the race, based on the NASCAR rule that assigns starting positions based on highest average practice speed in the event of inclement weather.
Keselowski displayed a fast car once the green flag was displayed. By the eighth lap, he had the Miller Lite machine running inside the top-five, despite a handling condition that he described as loose entering and exiting the high-banked DIS corners. However, as the run progressed, the chassis began to tighten up. A competition caution on lap 40 gave crew chief Paul Wolfe the opportunity to make adjustments to the air pressure and wedge on the No. 2 car. Keselowski restarted the race from the 10th position on lap 46 after giving up a few spots on pit road as other competitors elected to take only two tires.
While the handling issues continued, Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top-10 as the race moved past the first 100 laps. Keselowski and Wolfe elected to implement a "short pit" strategy on their second stop by coming in a few laps before they anticipated, with Keselowski running in the eighth spot on lap 106. As green-flag pit stops began, Keselowski found himself running in the fifth position as the stops cycled through.
Rain once again interrupted the action as a short shower moved over DIS and forced a caution period on lap 163. A quick track-drying process allowed the race to resume at lap 170 and Keselowski began to turn some of the fastest laps on the track. As the race neared the 200-lap mark, the Miller Lite Dodge proved to be as fast as the race leader. Air pressure adjustments by Wolfe and the team were successful in tightening up the car's handling and Keselowski radioed that he was "very pleased" with the Miller Lite machine.
Following a lap 223 restart, Keselowski noted that a significant amount of tire rubber had begun to build up on the racing surface. As a result, the Miller Lite Dodge again became very loose on corner entry and exit. Following a long green-flag run, Keselowski lost several positions as he dropped back to 18th place. With the race leaders on his bumper, Keselowski elected to visit pit road for a significant wedge adjustment during a lap 333 caution period.
We started off the race really well.
As the final caution flag of the day flew on lap 362, Wolfe elected to bring Keselowski down pit road for a two-tire stop, in hopes of gaining valuable track position at the end of the race. However, the Miller Lite Dodge stalled as Keselowski attempted to leave the pit box, which cost him several positions. He restarted the race in the 10th spot on lap 367, but he was unable to keep his car inside the top-10 over the final 33 laps as he crossed the finish line in 13th place.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished 14th Saturday in the FedEx 400.
Following Saturday's result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 24th in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
"We started off the race really well," said Keselowski. "I think we were probably about a fifth-place car. We worked on it a little bit, felt confident about it, but kind of lost the handle there around the mid-part of the race and fell back to about (18th). We kept working on it and got back to where we were a fifth-place car, but had lost track position. We were working our way through the field and that last yellow came out. I stalled the car on the pit stop and lost our track position again. I fought hard on the restart and got some of it back and we finished 13th. At the end of the day, I think we were a legit eighth-place car. I didn't execute and we got off in the mid-part of the race. We've got room to work all the way around, but overall, I think it was a solid day for the Miller Lite Dodge team."
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will next compete at the Sprint All-Star Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. on Saturday, May 21.
-source: penske racing