LOUDON, N.H. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished fifth in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) on Sunday afternoon. The finish wrapped up a solid weekend for Keselowski at NHMS as he also won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the track on Saturday afternoon.
Keselowski qualified 22nd for the 301-lap event with a lap of 28.836 seconds, or 132.085 miles per hour, around the flat one-mile oval during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. When the green flag flew to start the event, Keselowski began to make quick work of the cars immediately in front of him. By the 32nd lap, he found himself running inside the top 15 while turning laps two-tenths-of-a-second faster than the cars between him and the top 10. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that the car was handling slightly loose while entering the corners and a little tight in the center of the turns, but that the balance was good on the Miller Lite machine as he consistently posted some of the fastest times on the track late in the run. Wolfe brought his driver down pit road, under the green flag, at lap 63 while Keselowski was running in the 11th position. The Miller Lite crew performed a pit stop consisting of four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. An outstanding stop placed Keselowski sixth in the running order when the pit stops cycled through at lap 73.
Following the first round of pit stops, Keselowski noted that the handling condition was much the same as before the stop. He continued to hold down the sixth position as the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 89. Keselowski then returned to pit road again, this time for a two-tire and fuel stop. More fast work by the No. 2 pit crew resulted in their driver restarting the race in the fifth position at lap 94.
As the race moved past the halfway point, Keselowski was able to maintain his position inside the top five, despite a chassis that still was not handling exactly the way he would have liked. He continued to be one of the fastest drivers late in the run, eventually working his way up to the top spot as the field began to make green-flag pit stops. Keselowski surrendered the lead at lap 156 to bring his car down pit road for a four-tire stop that included an air pressure and track bar adjustments. When the stops cycled at lap 163, he was running in the sixth position.
This latest round of adjustments had a positive effect on the corner-entry handling on the Miller Lite Dodge and, as a result, Keselowski was able to make his way up to the fourth position before another caution flag was displayed at lap 189. Wolfe instructed his driver to follow the leaders, which led Keselowski down pit road for another two-tire pit stop. He restarted the race in the fifth position at lap 193. Unfortunately, Keselowski lost several positions on this restart and fell back to 10th place before he was able to get himself back into rhythm.
With less than 100 laps to go, Keselowski was able to claw his way back up to eighth in the running order to put he and the team in position to have a good points day. Their final pit stop of the day – another two-tire stop – came at lap 235. Keselowski returned to the track in the fifth position, but restarting on the unfavorable inside line resulted in him losing two more spots when the race resumed. However, he was able to save his car until he felt it was time to make a move and, over the last 35 laps, Keselowski was able to race his way into the fifth position before crossing the finish line.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish, Jr., finished 22nd in Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301.
Following Saturday’s finish, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team dropped one spot to 10th in the Cup Series driver and owner point standings.
“That’s good short-track racing,” said Keselowski. “Fought hard with the Miller Lite Dodge and I think we were probably good enough to run in the first two or three. It looked like the 11 car (Denny Hamlin) was probably the fastest car. It just came down to finding track position and we just didn’t have quite enough track position there at the end and give them a shot for it. Certainly proud of the fact that we were able to get from a 20-something starting position all the way up to the top five. It was a good effort all day long and we were solid on pit road. Obviously we want to win but it’s still a good day.”
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race in two weeks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 29, in the Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 12:00 pm EST on ESPN. The race will also be heard on the IMS Radio Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.