Penske Racing press release
Keselowski Earns 12th-Place Finish in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (September 10, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 12th in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) on Saturday night. With the finish, Keselowski will enter the 2011 Chase for the Championship in the 11th position as the No. 1 wild card qualifier.
This will mark the first appearance in the Chase for Keselowski. The Penske Racing driver is also the only Chase rookie in the field of 12 that will battle it out over the next 10 races for the Cup Series championship.
Keselowski began Saturday night’s 400-lap event from the 19th position after posting a lap of 21.382 seconds, or 126.274 miles per hour, around the .75-mile, D-shaped oval during Friday’s qualifying session. The race began with a rash of caution periods that kept it from getting off to a fluid start. Keselowski chose to save his car’s equipment early on as he let the race settle in before making his way to the front of the field. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that the Miller Lite Dodge was handling tight in the center of the RIR corners, with a lack of forward bite on corner on exit. Wolfe called for track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments on the team’s first stop, but nothing seemed to remedy the ill- handling condition.
Following a lap 187 pit stop, during which Wolfe called for a slight air pressure adjustment on the No. 2 machine, Keselowski began to carve his way through the field. After restarting the race in 19th place, the Penske Racing driver made his way up to the second position by the next caution period at lap 246. Despite a handling condition that was now a little loose on corner exit, it seemed as though Keselowski had a car that could contend for the win.
Despite having the fastest car on the track, Keselowski radioed that his car was still loose getting into the RIR corners. As the race progressed past the halfway point, Keselowski began to lose the track position that he gained on the previous run. After falling back to the 15th position by lap 384, a caution period gave Wolfe and Keselowski one final opportunity to dial in the Miller Lite machine for a run to the checkered flag. After a wedge adjustment and four fresh Goodyear radials were added to the Miller Lite Dodge, Keselowski was able to race his way into the 12th position before the checkered flag.
Penske Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, finished fifth in Saturday’s Wonderful Pistachios 400.
Following Saturday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team remain 11th in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings. The team will enter the Chase, which begins in Chicago on Sept. 18, in the the top wild card position on the strength of the team’s three wins this season.
"It's an incredible feeling to be in the Chase,” said Keselowski. “What a great sense of accomplishment for this entire Miller Lite Dodge team. This is one big step. We have more steps to go. It's something to be proud of that's for sure. Early in the season when things weren't going right we just kept focusing in on the positives and stayed true to the course. We knew that we had fast Dodges. We kept plugging away, not giving up and eventually you're going to be rewarded for that.”
The first race for Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team in the 2011 Chase for the Championship will be the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, September 18. Live coverage will begin at 2 pm ET on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio Channel 90.