Keselowski Secures Chase Birth with Third-Place Finish
September 3, 2012HAMPTON, Ga. (September 2, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished third in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) on Sunday night. With the finish, Keselowski wrapped up a spot in the 2012 Chase for the Championship – his second-consecutive appearance in NASCAR’s playoff system – with one race remaining in the regular season.
Keselowski began the scheduled 325-lap race from the 21st position after his time of 30.121 seconds, or 184.058 miles per hour, around the 1.54-mile quad-oval during the Friday night qualifying session. Keselowski quickly began to show the strength of his Miller Lite Dodge early in the event as he made his way inside the top-15 by lap 20. He began searching the multi-grooved racetrack for lines where his car could not only turn fast lap times, but where it was also easy on his Goodyear radials. When the first yellow flag was displayed at lap 39, crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Keselowski restarted the race from the 11th position at lap 44.
Following the first pit stop, Keselowski radioed that his car felt very secure around the high-speed abrasive oval as he quickly made his way inside the top 10. Entering the event, Keselowski needed only to finish seventh or higher to secure his spot in the Chase. He reached that spot in the running order at lap 66 and would remain there for much of the race.
As the race moved past the first 100 laps, Keselowski noted that his car’s stability began to get worse. Wolfe and the team applied more air pressure adjustments, along with some changes to the left-side wedge, to help their driver achieve a more secure feeling in the Miller Lite machine. Keselowski continued to do a great job in managing his tire wear as he was one of the fastest cars at the end of a fuel run.
At the halfway point of the race, Keselowski found himself running in the sixth position. He brought his Miller Lite Dodge to the attention of his pit crew at lap 174 for another stop that included a four-tire change, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The pit crew, which was solid all night for their driver, got Keselowski back out in the same position as the green-flag stops cycled through at lap 178.
With the laps continuing to wind down, Keselowski remained comfortably within the top-seven position needed to lock up his spot in the Chase for the Championship. After restarting the race from the fifth spot at lap 270, Keselowski made a strong move up to third place in a final push for the win and the bonus points that would accompany that after the start of the Chase. He remained inside the top-five through a green-white-checkered flag finish to secure the third-place result.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish, Jr., finished 11th in Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500.
Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team move up one spot to sixth in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
“We had a great day,” said Keselowski. “We didn’t qualify very well and, after practicing, didn’t think we were going be well but once again the Miller Lite Dodge crew stepped up and gave me a great racecar. I was able to drive it up to about fifth and that was kind of where we leveled off and that restart was able to get (us) up to third. Just a solid night here at Atlanta and proud of the effort by everyone. Got some good consistency and some great cars and it feels good to be locked into the Chase, too.”
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 8 in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Coverage of the event will be seen live beginning at 7:00 pm EST on ABC. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
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