Keselowski Finishes 32nd Following Late-Race Accident
February 28, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 27, 2012) – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished 32nd in the 54th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Monday evening. For the first time in its illustrious history, “The Great American Race” was run on a day other than Sunday. It will go down in the history books as one of the most unique Daytona 500s of all-time.
Persistent rain showers moved through the Daytona Beach area on Sunday and into Monday morning. NASCAR was forced to postpone the event twice, eventually settling on a 7:00 pm ET start time on Monday evening. Keselowski started the 200-lap race from the 23rd starting spot based on his finishing order in the first 150-mile qualifying race, held on Thursday afternoon.
The race began with a quick caution period on the first lap following an accident that took out several contending racecars. Another caution flag flew at lap 13, as Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver down pit road for the first time during the event for fuel only. Keselowski restarted the race from the 15th position on lap 17 following the service.
After the intermittent start, the race settled in as the field raced around the 2.5-mile oval in a pack, similar to traditional restrictor-plate racing before the two-car tandem became popular over the last two years. Keselowski, employing a different strategy than in the Shootout at Daytona or his 150-mile qualifying race, chose to stay aggressive throughout the event. He first entered the top 10 at lap 26 and stayed inside the top 15 for much of the night. Wolfe and the team elected to not make many adjustments during the event, only choosing between two-tire and four-tire stops.
As the race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski began to try to work in the second groove on the racetrack to prepare for his plan of attack later in the event. He and the No. 20 car driven by Joey Logano began working together, as Keselowski eventually made his way up to the fifth position by lap 114. Following a lap 133 restart, Keselowski found himself running in the 12th position, but he was shuffled back in the field as the race resumed. Working with a strong car and demonstrating restrictor-plate skill, he was able to quickly race his way back inside the top 10 before a lap 157 caution, as it appeared Keselowski could contend for the win.
After the field visited pit road following the caution at lap 157, one of the most memorable events in Daytona 500 history occurred. As the field prepared to take the green flag, the No. 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya appeared to suffer a broken suspension and it collided with a jet dryer that was clearing the racing surface. The resulting fire from the incident was substantial and it took DIS track officials two hours and five minutes to make repairs as the field sat under the red flag. During this time, Keselowski became the first NASCAR driver to tweet from his car during a race and, in the process, he gained approximately 134,000 Twitter followers during the red flag period.
As the race resumed at lap 167, Keselowski noted that he had developed a small vibration in one of his wheels. A lap 178 caution period gave him an opportunity to visit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Unfortunately the rest of his night was short-lived as Keselowski was caught up in a multi-car accident directly in front of him shortly after the field returned to green-flag racing. He would be credited with a 32nd-place finish.
Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished 34th in Monday night’s Daytona 500.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t see the wreck until we were already involved in it,” said Keselowski. “I had a really good run coming up the middle groove and it all just happened right in front of me. That’s just how this racing goes. One of these days I’m going to get a finish I deserve in this race. We had a fast car and that is something we should all be proud of. I expect to have another one next weekend at Phoenix.”
Following Monday’s event, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team are ranked 29th in the driver and owner point standings.
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will move on to Phoenix International Raceway next Sunday, March 4, for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Coverage can be seen live beginning at 2:30 pm EST on FOX. The race can also be heard on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.