Monday, 16 August 2010 10:45
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #12 Penske Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Cup Series, finished 34th in the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) on Sunday afternoon.
The Rochester Hills, Mich. native ran strong in the early portion of the event before damage to the front end splitter severely altered the handling of the Penske Dodge.
Keselowski, the winner of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at MIS, started the 200 lap event from the 26th position.
When the race began it was evident that Keselowski drove with confidence following the victory as he quickly raced his way into the 17th position by lap 5.
Keselowski was able to keep his car inside the top 20 before the first caution flag of the day flew on lap 32. He radioed to crew chief Jay Guy that the #12 was handling loose entering the MIS corners and tight in the centre of the turns.
Guy called for adjustments to the track bar and air pressure and Keselowski restarted the race from the 17th position on lap 39.
As the race resumed, Keselowski had to deal with a loose chassis condition getting into the high speed MIS corners.
Drivers enjoy racing at MIS because they are able to run many different driving lines around the racetrack and Keselowski was able to pick up time by adjusting his racing line.
However, the loose handling condition resulted in the Penske Dodge falling back to 25th place prior to a lap 60 caution period for rain.
Once again, Guy called for track bar and air pressure adjustments when Keselowski made his way down pit road.
On the ensuing lap 67 restart, Keselowski, running in the 26th position, radioed that a major vibration had developed in the front end of the #12 Penske Dodge Charger.
The initial diagnosis was a loose wheel, but after further inspection, it became clear that something had made heavy contact with the front end splitter.
The longer Keselowski ran, the more the splitter began to break away. Guy and the #12 team developed a plan to replace the splitter, but they needed a caution period in which to do so.
Unfortunately for the team, the race stayed under the green flag until lap 148. At that point, Keselowski had fallen two laps down to the leaders.
The #12 team was able to make the necessary repairs to the splitter, while also making a four tyre pit stop, in just over three minutes but, while on pit lane, Keselowski lost another lap to the leaders.
After the repairs were made, Keselowski was able to turn competitive lap times, but he was not able to overcome the positions lost as a result of the splitter damage and finished in 34th place.
Keselowski and the #12 Penske Dodge Charger team remained 25th in both the driver and owner point standings following Sunday’s result.
“Just a tough day with our Dodge Charger and it really wasn’t our fault. Somewhere near the middle of the race, we broke a front splitter brace from some debris on the track. That caused a huge vibration and really disturbed our handling. I’m still not sure what we hit,” said Keselowski.
"To make things worse, we got caught on a long green flag run and couldn’t make it to pit lane to make the repairs we needed and lost some laps. We finally were able to pit under a yellow, fix the front end and get back out there. It just made it for a long day. I’m proud of my guys. They hung in there and competed all day.”
Penske Racing team-mates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished in 32nd and 40th place, respectively.
Next weekend, the #12 Penske Dodge team will move to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time this season.
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