Brad Keselowski was one of the dominant cars in the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday and was cruising to a victory… until everything spiraled out of control.
Keselowski won the first two stages of the event and led a total of 108 laps, gapping second-place Chase Elliott with eight laps to go when Team Penske teammate Joey Logano blew a tire and spun as a result of contact with Kyle Busch. In one moment, Keselowski’s lead evaporated, in addition to his automatic ticket to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
On the ensuing restart, Keselowski chose the outside line and gave Elliott the inside line. The two racers battled hard for a lap before Elliott drifted up the track and used up Keselowski to take the lead.
“Everybody’s trying to get all they can get,” Keselowski said. “You know it’s coming. You just hope it’s enough so you can keep going.”
The 2012 champion sailed up into the third lane and fell back like an anchor.
Keselowski said the only thing he could have done differently is choose the inside line on the restart.
“It’s the way the track is. It’s slick,” Keselowski said. “It takes about 10 laps for these cars to get going. You have those restarts there at the end… You get a lot of this rubbing and beating. That’s what short track racing I guess is about.”
Thanks to another restart and a huge pileup at the finish-line, Keselowski rebounded to finish in fourth place. He won the first two stages of the race, so Keselowski comes out of the day with a 29-point advantage over fifth place Jimmie Johnson, sitting third in the championship standings.
Despite the solid points day, Keselowski can’t help but think that one got away.
“Would love to win and take a lot of stress off the next two weeks,” Keselowski said. “We scored a lot of points and that’s something we can build on.”
Keselowski said he does not plan on talking to Elliott about the incident.
“I don’t need any bulls–t,” Keselowski said.
Despite the madness that ensued at Martinsville, Keselowski said he still wants more short tracks on the schedule.