Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished eighth in the Hollywood Casino 400 – the sixth race in the 2012 Chase for the Championship – at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The race on the newly-repaved track featured a season-high 14 caution periods that slowed the competition for a total of 66 laps, which prevented the field from finding a good rhythm.
With the result, Keselowski continues to lead the Chase for the Championship standings by seven points over Jimmie Johnson with four races remaining in the season.
Keselowski began the 267-lap race from the 25th position after posting a time of 28.606 seconds, or 188.772 miles per hour, around the 1.5-mile oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. After the green flag, Keselowski immediately went to work with his Miller Lite machine as he made his way into the top 20 at lap 16. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe at lap 27 that he was dealing with a tight-handling condition in getting to the center of the corners. The first caution period of the day, at lap 31, provided Wolfe an opportunity to bring his driver down pit road for a two-tire stop that included wedge and air pressure adjustments. Keselowski restarted the race from the 16th position at lap 37.
Immediately after Keselowski made his way into the top 15 at lap 38, another caution flag flew over the field. After electing to remain on the racing surface, Keselowski picked up more track position as he restarted the event from the 11th spot at lap 45. He radioed that the handling of the car was much improved with the adjustments as he set his sights on the top 10, which he reached at lap 46. The team made its second stop of the day under a lap 71 caution period, during which the Miller Lite pit crew changed four tires while making a track bar adjustment. Keselowski, whose No. 2 machine was beaten off pit road by many cars electing to change only two tires, restarted from the 14th position at lap 77.
During the third run of the day, Keselowski found himself stuck in “dirty air” for much of the time. When the fourth caution of the day was displayed at lap 84, Keselowski brought his Miller Lite Dodge down pit road for four tires and fuel, which placed him on a different fuel strategy than many of the lead-lap cars. This proved to be a great move as another caution flag came out at lap 122 after several of the leaders had already made their pit stops to trap them one lap down. Keselowski was able to make his way down pit road for another two-tire pit stop that allowed him to keep the track position he earned while the other cars were on pit road.
After the competitors returned to green-flag racing at lap 128, the event was interrupted by three caution periods before the 155th lap. Following the lap 155 caution, Wolfe again elected to make a two-tire pit stop. Keselowski restarted from the 15th position at lap 163. In a race that featured many incidents, one of the most harrowing for Keselowski came at lap 183 when the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch and the No. 39 machine of Ryan Newman made contact directly in front of the series leader. Fortunately, the two damaged cars parted just enough for Keselowski and the Miller Lite Dodge to squeeze through without incident.
Following the final pit stop of the day for the No. 2 team, at lap 218, Keselowski was able to navigate the tricky surface to secure his 20th top-10 finish of the season, and the 14th in the last 16 races.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., finished 26th in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.
“I don’t even know how to explain it,” said Keselowski. “I’m ready to go home and have a couple beers. It was just a long day. Everybody has been asking all season long where have all the cautions been? The answer is that they flew to Kansas because there was caution after caution and it seemed like every wreck today seemed to happen in front of me. I’m glad to survive the carnage and brought back a decent Miller Lite Dodge in OK shape. That’s the only way that I can describe it. Whew! Just a tough day.”
Penske Racing PR