Teamwork Gives Keselowski a 20th-Place Finish at Pocono LONG POND, Pa. (August 1, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 20th in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono ...
Teamwork Gives Keselowski a 20th-Place Finish at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (August 1, 2010) -- Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 20th in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski and the No. 12 team rebounded from an ill-handling car in the early portions of the race -- along with a pit road mishap -- to grab a solid finish in a race that featured two red flag periods for rain.
Keselowski, who finished fourth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, posted his second-consecutive 11th- place qualifying result at Pocono by touring the 2.5-mile triangle in 53.084 seconds, or 169.543 mph, during Friday's qualifying session.
Rain showers moved through the Pocono area on Sunday morning, washing the racing surface clean of the tire rubber that had built up over the weekend. As a result, NASCAR mandated a "competition caution" period on lap 15 to give teams a chance to check their tire wear. The change in the track conditions affected the handling of the No. 12 Penske Dodge early in the race as Keselowski had to deal with a chassis that was tight in every corner of the track. Crew chief Jay Guy took advantage of the early caution as he called for air pressure and track bar adjustments. Keselowski, who entered pit road in the 22nd position, restarted the race in the 19th spot on lap 19 thanks to fast work by his pit crew. The race would not have another caution period until lap 120.
While the adjustments had the desired effect on the car in the short term, Keselowski needed more out of the Penske Dodge, especially getting into the tricky Turn 2 at Pocono. Under the first of four green-flag pit stops on lap 47, Guy prescribed a wedge adjustment that awakened the No. 12 chassis. Keselowski restarted the race in the 24th position, but quickly began turning lap times as fast as the top-10 cars. He was able to drive his way inside the top-20 with a car that was "very racy."
As the race moved past the halfway mark, Keselowski fell one lap down as a result of track position and the fast pace established by the leaders. Guy called Keselowski to pit road with the race leaders on lap 106 and another fast stop placed him back on the lead lap as he beat the leader out of the pits. However, NASCAR ruled that Keselowski exceeded the speed limit upon leaving pit road and he had to serve a pass-through penalty on lap 110, which resulted in the loss of one lap.
Keselowski began working his way into contention for the "lucky dog free pass" back to the lead lap, but he was not able to catch the right breaks for it to work out. When the caution flag flew on lap 145, Guy developed a plan to get Keselowski back on the lead lap, while also giving his driver the adjustments he needed. Instead of entering pit road for service, Guy instructed Keselowski to remain on the track to receive the "wave around." Keselowski then restarted the race on lap 150, but quickly made his way down pit road on the same lap. He exited pit road in front of the leaders and was able to remain there until a lap 157 caution allowed him to catch up to the end of the field. As other cars made their way down pit road under the caution period, Keselowski was able to remain on track and restart the race in the 16th position on lap 162.
Rain once again played a role in the race as the red flag was displayed for 30 minutes on lap 164 while NASCAR began the track drying process. When the red flag was lifted, Keselowski made his final pit stop of the day on lap 169. Guy once again called for track bar and air pressure adjustments in hopes of giving his driver the car he needed to mount a final charge to the front. Keselowski was able to once again run some of the fastest lap times on the track, but the Penske Dodge developed a loose-handling condition over the final laps which resulted in a 20th-place finish.
Keselowski and the No. 12 Penske Dodge Charger team remained 25th in the driver point standings following Sunday's result. However, they were able to move up one spot to 25th in the owner standings.
"We just worked together as a team to get in position for a top-20 finish," said Keselowski. "We made great pit stops at the end. I was able to make a couple good moves and got up to 15th, but couldn't quite hold on and finished 20th. It wasn't for lack of effort. We've got to keep working. We just need a little bit more. We're not far off. Just a little bit would take us a long way."
Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished in 11th and 33rd place, respectively.
The No. 12 Penske Dodge team will move to Watkins Glen International next weekend for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.
-source: penske racing