Much like the Indianapolis 500 in May, a Team Penske machine came up short of victory.
For Brad Keselowski, it was a day of possibility, luck and hardcore racing for one of the sport’s most prestigious trophies of the year. And when it came down to the end, Keselowski lost out on the latter portion, as Kasey Kahne passed him to win on the final overtime restart of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“Kasey and I swapped it back and forth three or four times,” Keselowski said. “On those restarts, it seemed like whoever was second would get the lead. It makes me wish I had one more restart.”
Leading 23 laps on the day, it was pit strategy that put Keselowski in position to win. When Clint Bowyer wrecked hard on the frontstrech with 10 laps to go, Keselowski, who was stretching his fuel at the time, led the field to pit road and restarted third on the ensuing restart.
But even after a controversial restart jump, Keselowski was no match for Kahne, who powered by for the victory.
“We were side by side and I got a push from behind,” Keselowski said of the first attempt at NASCAR Overtime. “I think I was probably a nose ahead at the second line. I’m not sure. It’s so difficult to judge that. That’s one issue with double-file restarts, a lot of pressure on the front row.”
The restart came after one of the most nail-biting moments of the year, as Keselowski and Kahne made contact off Turn 2, opening the door for Jimmie Johnson to take it three wide. Staying in perfect formation down the backstretch, the three took it into Turn 3, with Johnson being the man who didn’t make it.
“I felt if we wrecked, I couldn’t go home and feel good about that,” Keselowski said. “I would’ve been mad about that forever. It didn’t work out perfectly but I darn-near got away with it. Kept us in contention for the win.”
When Johnson impacted the Turn 3 wall, it was only one of a record-breaking 14 cautions in Brickyard 400 history. Keselowski, who’s known to have opinions on the competition of racecars, said it was just one of those days in NASCAR racing — and that’s why we watch.
“It certainly wasn’t what has become the norm for this race,” he said. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I don’t think the norm was what everyone was looking for. I still think there’s a lot of work we can do to put on a race that has a balance between high attrition and also having key moments we all love to see. This race had those key moments that we will all probably play back for 10 years. But it also had those moments that are… off-key.
“Every race is never the same, that’s why you go to them. Unpredictability is part of it. We’ll see what we have next year when we come back.”
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.