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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Keselowski credits Dale Jr. for his restrictor plate prowess

Brad Keselowski is no slouch on the restrictor plate tracks, but he did not get that way all by himself.

He gave credit to the man who started his career trajectory by putting him in competitive Nationwide series equipment -- Dale Earnhardt Jr -- for making him someone who can contend at Daytona and Talladega.

“You really have to pay attention to how the race unfolds at Talladega. There are times when you need to be patient. There are times when you need to keep your head about you and race smart. But you are going to have to be aggressive at the end. Those are three elements of restrictor-plate racing that I work on throughout the race. I learned that from Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. He gets a lot of the credit for the kind of racer that I am on the plate tracks.”

His teammate, A.J. Allmendinger, said the pack racing is quite different that the tandem racing experience was at the plate tracks.
“You know, when it came to the tandem racing, a lot of it was just luck. I mean, just getting hooked up and kind of getting that right hole at the right time and being pushed at the right time. But I think when it comes to big pack racing, the first thing is having a fast race car. A lot of it is still luck, getting in that right time at the right place and not getting caught up in that big wreck, knowing when to go, knowing the right position to put yourself in. It’s a combo between having a fast race car and being smart. You see those types of guys that are up front when it comes time to get going at the end.”

— Dodge won the first Sprint Cup race at Talladega in 1969. Richard Brickhouse was the winner as Dodge swept the first four positions.
— Dodge has three wins at Talladega: Brickhouse (1969), Richard Petty (1974) and Dave Marcis (1976).
— A Dodge has started from the pole 12 times at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Dodge has one pole since returning to the Sprint Cup Series in 2001 – Stacy Compton in 2001.
— Brad Keselowski is the only current Dodge driver with a win at Talladega. That came before he joined Penske Racing.

— A.J. Allmendinger’s best start at Talladega --- fourth – came in the 2008 spring race.
— Brad Keselowski has recorded one win, two top-five and four top-10 finishes is six career starts at Talladega Superspeedway. He is currently 13th in driver standings, and currently the No. 2 wild card in the Chase rankings behind Kyle Busch (No. 1 wild card).
— In Brad Keselowski’s 2009 Sprint Cup Series win at Talladega, he led only once in the race – the final lap. There were 57 lead changes in the 188-lap event.
— A.J. Allmendinger’s 11th-place finish last spring at Talladega is a personal best at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
— The last 15 Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have had 10 or fewer cautions.
— Last year’s spring race matched series records for lead changes (88) and closes margin of victory (0.002 seconds).

"After tandem racing became the fastest way around in all of the 2011 restrictor plate races, NASCAR changed the radiator and air inlet rules and pack racing was back for the 2012 Daytona 500 in February. What does that mean for Talladega? Most engineers believe that under the current rules, they'll have to be ready for pack racing again at this week. Knowing the tandem format is faster, don't be surprised if some teams haven't come up with creative ways to massage the 2012 rules package to gain back an edge over the competition."
Howard Comstock, SRT Motorsports Engineering

— 3 – Dodge driver Bobby Isaac started from the pole the first three races at Talladega. He posted top-five finishes including second twice.
— 21 – Dodge driver Brad Keselowski has led 21 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in six career starts.
— 200 – In 1970, Dodge’s Buddy Baker set a closed course speed record of 200.447 mph, becoming the first stock car driver to officially exceed the 200 mph mark.

— First Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win: Lee Petty, 2/1/53, West Palm Beach, Fla., 100 miles, .5-mile track.
— Last Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win: Brad Keselowski, 03/18/2012, Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway, 93.037 mph avg. speed.
— Dodge drivers have 213 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
— Dodge teams have posted 53 victories since the manufacturer’s return to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001 after being out of the sport since 1977.
— Dodge has posted wins each season since its return in 2001 including seven wins twice (2002 and 2006).

“All of the work for Talladega is done before the cars are loaded into the transporter. It’s very hard to improve once you are at the track because handling is not a huge deal. It’s all aerodynamics and motor. Attention to detail on the body and the motor is very important. Penske Racing, as a group, has been very competitive on the restrictor-plate tracks this season. I think we’ve learned a few things since then that will make us even more competitive this weekend. Brad really likes Talladega and when you go to a track where your driver has won before it gives you confidence that you can do it again.”
Paul Wolfe, crew chief, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T

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