CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS), finished second in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) on Saturday night. The four-time all-star was able to win the third segment of the five-segment event, but could not get around the No. 48 car of Jimmie Johnson during the final 10 laps.
The All-Star Race featured four 20-lap segments before finishing with one 10-lap shootout for $1 million. The winner of each segment lined up in positions one through four before the mandatory pit stop prior to the start of the final segment.
Keselowski started the 90-lap event from the 19th position based on the three-lap qualifying session on Friday night. When the green flag flew, Keselowski immediately began to work his way through the field by running lap times as fast as the drivers inside the top 10. He radioed to crew chief Paul Wolfe that his car was strong entering the center of the corners, and he was happy with the overall balance. As the first segment ended at lap 20, Wolfe elected to keep Keselowski on the racing surface to pick up valuable track position for the start of segment two.
The second segment got underway as Keselowski restarted the race from the fourth position at lap 21. He immediately lost several spots as the heat cycle in his Goodyear radials caused a tight-handling condition for the Miller Lite machine. The team elected to make its first pit stop of the night under a caution period at lap 26. Wolfe called for air pressure and track bar adjustments, in addition to four fresh tires and fuel. This pit stop allowed Keselowski to remain on the track following the second 20-lap segment.
As Keselowski led the field to the green flag to restart the race at lap 41, he was able to quickly distance himself from the rest of the field. As the run progressed it seemed as though the No. 5 car driven by Kasey Kahne would eventually overtake Keselowski, but the Penske Racing driver kept enough in reserve to beat Kahne to the line by inches in the closest finish of the night. Keselowski led all 20 laps of the third segment, which gave him the most laps led by anyone in the All-Star race. The finish insured that Keselowski would enter pit road for the final pit stop in the third position.
Knowing they had a spot in the top-four cars for the final 10-lap segment, Keselowski and Wolfe elected to play it safe during the fourth, 20-lap segment. Wolfe called Keselowski down pit road for an air pressure adjustment under a lap 68 caution period, which set up the team’s pit strategy for the rest of the race. After finishing segment four in the 21st position, Keselowski hit pit road for his mandatory pit stop. Wolfe called for only a stop-and-go on pit lane, exactly the same as the other segment winners, and Keselowski lined up in the third position for the final 10-lap segment.
Keselowski quickly made his way into the second position when the race resumed, but he could not challenge the No. 48 car for the win. Still, the finish gave everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge team confidence heading back to CMS next weekend for the Coca-Cola 600.
Penske Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, finished 11th in Saturday night’s All-Star Race.
“I’m proud of our effort and I’m really proud of our team,” said Keselowski. “I think we’re a really young team that’s growing and getting better every week, every day and every hour. This was a showing of that tonight in the All-Star race. We got beat by a five-time champ and a two-time All-Star winner. I think we’re doing pretty good, but I want that one more spot man. Just didn’t have enough to pull it off tonight, but we’ll come back next week for the 600 with another great Miller Lite Dodge.”
Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team will next race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 27, in the Coca-Cola 600. Coverage will be seen live beginning at 5:30 pm EST on the FOX network. The race will also be heard on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.