Keselowski too low in post-race inspection
June 02, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
DOVER, Del. -- Brad Keselowski earned a hard-fought fifth-place finish in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway.
Now the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion must wait and see what, if any, penalties are handed down by NASCAR officials.
Keselowski’s No. 2 Penske Racing Ford measured too low in post-race inspection, and any consequences will likely be announced June 4 after NASCAR officials have reviewed the matter.
A similar issue for the No. 56 team of Martin Truex Jr. following this year’s Cup race at Texas resulted in a fine of $25,000 for Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief Chad Johnston and a loss of six driver and team points.
Sunday’s result moved Keselowski up two spots, to eighth, in the points battle. A six-point deduction, should it occur, would place him just outside the top 10.
Long before anything had been found amiss on his spent blue and white Ford, Keselowski sat perched on the pit wall, wiping his face with a cold rag after completing 400 tough miles.
“We drove hard all day, we just didn’t have the speed we need to go win the race,” Keselowski said. “But we had the speed we needed to have a solid day.
“The guys did a great job of executing today. We haven’t executed and we executed today.”
The race marked the return of crew chief Paul Wolfe, team manager Travis Geisler and several other key members of the Penske group after a two-race suspension for violations uncovered at Texas.
In Wolfe’s absence, Keselowski finished 32nd at Darlington and 36th at Charlotte.
"It means a lot to me to have everybody back,” Keselowski said. “I think the guys that were subbing did an excellent job. But these guys here, Paul and Brian Wilson, my engineer, and Jerry Kelley, my car chief, they’re pretty good too.”
Eighth when he started and fifth when he finished, Keselowski was eighth on the final restart of the day, following a Lap 377 caution for an accident involving Denny Hamlin.
Quick pit work earned him three spots off pit road and he began the final push in the fifth spot. While there was no catching the leaders, Keselowski battled Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer at the end to maintain his position.
“It is cool to see Tony (Stewart) win, he did a hell of a job driving that thing and it was a good race,” Keselowski said. “I was having fun watching them, but I wish I could have gotten up there.”
Wolfe said it was a day-long effort of trying to get the car running fast and consistent, but that “we just didn’t have what it needed to contend for the win.
“We just kept fighting hard, and put ourselves in position to get a top five at the end. At the end of the day, if you don’t have the speed, you’ve got to continue to try to execute and get maximum points as you can. I feel like that’s what we were able to do today.”
The car didn’t begin to show signs of coming around, Wolfe said, until after the halfway point in the race. An adjustment during a green-flag cycle of pit stops helped, “and it just took off,” he said.
“We had fallen out of the top 10 and during the green flag cycle we made and adjustment and we took off really good. That’s when we drove back into the top 10 and were able to hang on from there.
“We didn’t have the speed we wanted, but it’s not always about the speed. We got a top-five finish out of it because everyone worked hard. Brad did a great job hanging in there all day when the car wasn’t very good. We were able to get decent finish out of it.”
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