News & Media

Strong run ends in disappointment for Keselowski

July 10, 2011, Joe Menzer,

SPARTA, Ky. -- For much of the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night, it appeared the race was going to come down to a duel between Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota and Brad Keselowski's No. 2 Dodge.

But while Busch did end up going to Victory Lane in the end, Keselowski got bogged down on a couple of late restarts and faded to seventh after earlier leading three times for a total of 79 laps. Only Kyle Busch led more laps with a race-high 121.

"At the end, the restarts are just a crapshoot. ... Every restart just kept playing against us."


"It was an incredible Miller Lite Dodge [Saturday night]," Keselowski said. "I led a bunch of laps and I have to thank my team for that. Everyone at Penske Racing has a lot to be proud of. But I would have liked to have gotten a better finish from where we ended up."

Keselowski last led on Lap 239 of the 267-lap event. He blamed his drop to seventh mostly on bad luck, when he got stuck on the inside on the late restarts.

"At the end, the restarts are just a crapshoot," Keselowski said. "If you get the bottom lane, you're going backwards. I kept getting in an odd position and just kept getting on the bottom lane. Every restart just kept playing against us. It was a great effort by this race team and that makes me proud. We led laps and were competitive all night.

"So I'm proud of the effort of this race team, but disappointed in the results. It's just a product of double-file restarts. That's why drivers hate them -- because some tracks are great and they [help us] put on a good show, and then there are tracks like this where it just completely screws your day."

Keselowski said that was only in part because of the bumps in the lower groove of the 1.5-mile track that some drivers had complained about earlier.

"It was a combination of the bumps on the race track and the being on the bottom [on the restarts]," he said. "When you restart on the bottom lane, not only don't you not have air on the nose, you don't have air on the right side of the car. The right-side [air] is what keeps these cars from spinning out. When you don't have that air, you're awful."

Keselowski was asked if he thought he could have challenged Busch for the win if he had been able to line up on the outside on one or all of the late restarts.

"Absolutely. There's a reason why the leader takes the high lane on the restart," he said.

Still, a seventh-place finish wasn't all that bad. It was Keselowski's fourth top-10 finish in the past eight races and lifted him one spot in the Sprint Cup point standings to 21st. Included in that stretch was a win at Kansas Speedway -- increasing the importance of Keselowski cracking the top 20 in points so he can be eligible for one of the two wild-card spots available in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Considering Keselowski had a total of only two top-10 finishes all of last season, he's obviously beginning to show progress as a Cup driver. He also led more laps during Saturday's race than he had in the first 17 races of the season combined (when he had led at least one lap in six events for a total of 60 laps).

Keselowski said he liked being up front Saturday not only for the obvious reason that he was leading the race, but also because his car was markedly faster in the clean air.

"When we took the lead we picked up about a half-a-second. I hear all the time that people say these cars are all equal; there's your BS to that," he said. "When we got that clean air, we were able to set sail."

Keselowski added that he was impressed with the track overall during its inaugural Cup race.

"I like the track. You can run multiple grooves. You just can't run multiple grooves side-by-side," he said. "I think the track is more of a drivers' track than I thought it would be coming in here. That's good. We're just fighting the same things every week as a group, with aero[dynamics] on the car."