MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 3, 2011) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 19th in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Keselowski and the Miller Lite team battled changing track conditions throughout the race. A cut tire damaged the team’s chances for a top-10 finish as the No. 2 Dodge fell several laps down and ultimately could not make up the lost laps before the checkered flag.
Keselowski started from the 22nd position on the grid based on his effort during Saturday’s qualifying session as he lapped the .526-mile oval in 19.8360 seconds, or 95.463 miles per hour. Early in the race, Keselowski informed crew chief Paul Wolfe that the Miller Lite Dodge was tight-handling from the center to the exit of the turns. When the first caution flag flew on lap 51, Keselowski brought the No. 2 Dodge down the pit lane to the attention of his team. The Blue Deuce crew changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to address the car’s handling issues.
The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge ran as high as the 13th in the early laps of the 500 lap event. As the race progressed, Keselowski radioed that the car was still tight in the center and tight off of the corners. The No. 2 crew continued to work on the car throughout the afternoon as they made adjustments to the track bar and tire pressures on the Miller Lite machine. Keselowski reported the car would improve a little after each adjustment, then as the race wore on and track conditions changed, the tight-handling condition would return to the Dodge Charger.
On lap 323 the Blue Deuce cut a right front tire during a long green flag run. This cost the No. 2 Dodge a few laps while Keselowski slowly guided the car to pit lane for service. The driver of the Miller Lite car was able to earn a couple of laps back by staying out during a caution period, while the lead lap cars pitted on Lap 353. When the green flag flew again on lap 359, Keselowski found himself running just one lap down to the race leaders.
An untimely caution flag on lap 465 flew just as Keselowski was exiting the pits during a green flag stop, which cost the Miller Lite Dodge another lap as Keselowski pursued the leaders. He ultimately completed 498 of the race’s 500 laps to finish in the 19th position.
Following Sunday’s result, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team sit 25th in the Cup Series driver and owner point rankings.
“We probably had about a 10th-place car, but blew a right-front tire in the middle section of the race and lost two laps under green,” said Keselowski. “We got one of them back and got in the lucky dog spot, but couldn’t catch a caution. We drove our butt off to put ourselves in position for good things to happen, but they didn’t. Then we pitted under green late in the race trying to have something good happen again, but another yellow came out and we lost two more laps. We got one of those back, but just couldn’t buy the break we really needed to get back on the lead lap. That’s part of racing. We just have to keep digging. We had decent speed today, probably good enough for a top-10 finish. I needed to do a little better job conserving the car and we needed to have a little more speed so I didn’t have to conserve the car.”
Next weekend, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite team will head to Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas for the Samsung Mobile 500. Coverage will begin on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 pm EST on the FOX network. The race will also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 128.