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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Brad Keselowski struggles in his home track's Cup race

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Rochester Hills native Brad Keselowski’s weekend started with a poor qualifying effort, and raceday was not much better After a rough day that included a scrape with the wall, Keselowski could only manage a 25th place finish at his home track.
Still he focused on the positive side of his day.\

“Once the green flag flew, our Miller Lite Dodge was a rocket. We were able to make our way up the field and raced as high as 18th. I was just trying to move around on the race track, trying to get us to where we needed to be. I just pushed too hard and hit the wall and that led to a flat tire that totally changed our day. From there, our day went downhill and we just had to battle,” Brad said. “Later in the day, we started to make our car right and had an opportunity to make a good run out of it and get a good finish, but had some engine issues on the restart. It’s tough. This track and race means so much to me. I really wanted to have good run and we just didn’t make it happen today. It was just one of those days where it didn’t matter what we did, we were going to have a bad day. We’ll just keep working at it.”

As far as Brad’s efforts to make the Chase, he is still a couple spots and 12 points out of 20th in the points, but if he can get there he could qualify due to his win in Kansas.

Kurt Busch voices his opinion again
Kurt Busch is known for letting his feelings be known on the racetrack, and Sunday was no exception. Despite coming off his third straight pole position, his car was not to his liking during Sunday’s race at MIS.

At one point, Busch said: “I'm so pissed off right now I can't see straight" and he sounded like he meant it.

All is well at the Penske team, though, as Busch ended up 11th and had a solid points day, and the team is no doubt used to his outbursts, and takes them far less seriously than the media.

“A really up and down day for us. It’s always tough when you earn a pole position and can’t take advantage of it during the race. Our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger was just too inconsistent today to contend for a race win. We were a solid top-10 race car, but just couldn’t get (it) dialed in enough to run with the leaders. We ran 198 laps inside the top 10, finished 11th after getting nudged out on that last restart,” Busch said. “It seemed like our car would be good for the first five laps of a green flag run, and then once the track would rubber-in, we would run tight. Our first lap was awesome; the last 199 were a challenge. You have to be rock-solid on these two-mile race tracks. You need a good race car, solid pit stops and good changes to keep up with the track and we just were too inconsistent today. A solid points day for us and that’s important in the big picture.”

Surprising runs

Several drivers ran well Sunday that don’t normally make the headlines.

Paul Menard ended up in 4th, his first top-5 at Michigan and his best run in 2011.

He said it’s welcomed after a rough few weeks coming into the MIS race.
"We've had a rough month, no doubt about that. My guys needed a good run. We've had a fast car for the most part, just been struggling to put together a ful race. Wasn't really sure what we had in practice,” Menard said. “The car drove good, it seemed like we lacked a little bit of speed. Qualified in the top 10 and that's so important at these intermediate tracks, track position. Slugger made a good call to take two tires at the end. Kind of went back and forth, two verses four. A lot of people took two, we did. A little too tight at the end but the (car) was just a really solid weekend and that's what we needed."

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the 12th place run by young Landon Cassill, who took advantage of a late race caution and a solid pit call to get the best run of his career.
“It was great and we were really fast at some parts of the race and we kept getting the balance on one side or the other and we had a little bit of racer luck there that put us in position to put us on four tires there at the end and that is what made it for us and that was awesome. Great call on Nick Harris’s part,” Cassill said.
For a young driver like Cassill, who recently had to do some start-and-park races, good finishes like this are a sign that those days should be behind him and he can focus on a fully dedicated race effort and not just showing up.

Finally, A.J. Allmendinger had a decent run in 13th, but his Ford ran great early and was a top-5 car for much of the race.
He credited his run to the manufacturer and shared information from other Ford teams.
“That run was a credit to the Ford team in general. We struggled really bad. We were okay Friday and started struggling at the end of the day and we were really bad in qualifying. We looked at some notes and went off the other Ford cars, a different direction than we had been before and the car was great all day.”

When asked about points, A.J. was very honest though – he doesn’t think the team is capable of making the Chase right now, unless things start to improve very quickly.
“Points don’t matter right now. We have to get better. We aren’t a Chase team right now. Points to me, obviously you want to score every point you can but we need to be better before we worry about making the Chase. Today was a big step. We were never really good here and we were a top-five car all day. Thirteenth sucks in the end compared to what we had, but I am proud of what we did today.”

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