NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Massie’s Minute: Brad Keselowski Deserves to Be Added to Round of 8 (9)

Last Sunday (Oct. 20) at Kansas Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, a few late cautions completely altered the playoff picture and royally screwed Brad Keselowski in the process.

This chain of events started on lap 254 of 267, when the caution flag flew for debris. Ryan Blaney had a tire go down and left a trail of debris on the apron of the track. I disagree with the yellow flag waving for debris that isn’t on the racing surface.

NASCAR will sometimes throw cautions in these situations, but sometimes it doesn’t — it’s completely random. For example, why didn’t the caution come out in the Southern 500 this year when Kyle Busch was slamming the wall every turn of the final laps due to a flat tire? And yet Blaney tapping the wall once and having his tire explode when he’s already off the racing surface warrants a caution?

Prior to the caution, all Keselowski had to do was finish right where he was and he would’ve advanced to the Round of 8. He was three points ahead of Chase Elliott, and both seemed stuck where they were. But the caution bunched the field back up, giving Elliott the opportunity to gain positions and Keselowski the chance to lose them.

And that’s exactly what happened. Elliott worked his way up to second on the next run while Keselowski lost ground, putting Elliott two points ahead.

After six laps of racing, the yellow flag flew again, as Bubba Wallace‘s tire came completely off of the car and the No. 43 spun into Matt Tifft. This type of incident should absolutely draw a caution every single time it happens — there were two wrecked racecars, debris and a free-range tire that needed to be removed. This caution gave Keselowski another chance, but this wreck would have happened whether the Blaney caution came out or not because Wallace did not pit during that caution.

During this caution, Keselowski’s pit crew gained him three spots on pit road, getting him back one point above Elliott. That caution led the race to go into overtime, and the race finally restarted on lap 270. Elliott fell to third, while Keselowski gained several spots, adding to his point lead over Elliott.

But before the field took the white flag, the caution came out yet again. This time it was for a major pileup involving Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Daniel Hemric and Keselowski, though the No. 2 only sustained slight damage and kept going. The caution lights turned on roughly half a car length before leader Denny Hamlin took the white flag, forcing the race into more overtime. Had Hamlin been past the line when the caution lights turned on, the race would have been over.

The incident absolutely should have drawn a caution, but the problem is the caution flag flew before the wreck had fully happened. The wreck occurred in the middle of the pack on turn 4’s exit, meaning there was only a fraction of a second for the caution lights to turn on before Hamlin got to the line.

“They were ready, ready to press that thing,” Hamlin said to NBC about the caution coming out before he got to the line.

NBC broadcaster and semi-retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the same sentiment.

“I immediately thought in my mind like, ‘How in the hell did they not get the white?’ he said on his podcast. “Frickin’ impossible … Maybe there’s some automated technology that throws that light on. That’s the only way I can explain it. That’s the only way I can explain it. I cannot see how the human hand and eye was fast enough to beat Denny Hamlin to the finish line. … I don’t know how in the hell they got that light on that fast. Ain’t no damn way. Something’s fishy.”

When the caution came out, Keselowski was somewhere between three and five points ahead of Elliott, meaning he would have advanced had the race ended.

Normally, a wreck fully plays out before the caution flag flies. In some overtime situations, NASCAR has even waited to see if the cars involved can get back going so the race can stay green. In this instance, Suarez and Hemric had just hit the wall and the light was already on. I don’t entirely know how NASCAR’s caution system works, but if there’s a button that is pushed, then whoever pushed it had their finger hovering over the button just waiting for something to happen. Had there been any hesitation, Hamlin would have reached the line and ended the race. In fact, I’m surprised the caution lights didn’t turn on and off several times in that moment, because I’m picturing someone in race control pounding the button repeatedly like a video game controller and praying they got it off fast enough.

This race wasn’t exactly the most riveting prior to the final few cautions, so it needed something to spice it up. It brings back memories of the fall 2017 Richmond Raceway race when Matt Kenseth got on the brakes a little too hard and locked them up but didn’t spin or anything. Yet race control threw a caution immediately because it saw some tire smoke in a race that was fairly boring up until that point. At the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL race this year, cautions would fly at some points when someone spun and wouldn’t on other spins — it seemed to depend on whether or not the field was spread out and the race needed some action. The hope with cautions like these is to bunch the field back up and manufacture some action and drama.

I love both of those things in a race, but it just feels cheapened when it’s forced.

Well, NASCAR got plenty of manufactured drama out of Sunday’s ordeal. Elliott got up on the wheel and worked his way up to second on the final restart, while Keselowski had the worst restart of his life and lost several spots. This put Elliott into the Round of 8 and Keselowski out.

I’m not saying Elliott cheated or did anything wrong — he drove an incredible last few laps and did what he had to do. I’m not saying NASCAR rigged it for its most popular driver to advance over a polarizing driver, but it certainly helped him out. The race should have been over at that point, but NASCAR tried to manufacture drama. Sure, Keselowski should have done better on the final restart, but that final restart should have never happened. You can’t fault a driver for failing in a portion of a race that shouldn’t have existed.

If this had happened to Jeff Gordon instead of Keselowski, he might even be added to the Round of 8 as the ninth driver for this whole ordeal. NASCAR set a precedent with the 2013 Richmond controversies when Gordon was added to the playoffs because a Ford teammate gave Joey Logano the one position he needed to beat out Gordon. Because apparently no Chevrolet teammate ever pulled over and let Gordon have a position when he was points racing, but that’s a whole other debate.

But unfortunately, to add Keselowski back into the Round of 8 would be for the governing body to admit that there was some funny business going on this past weekend in that final caution. There’s a better chance of winning the lottery every day for the rest of your life.

NASCAR should be glad that Hamlin still won the race, because had he not then he would have been screwed out of five playoff points that he will use in this next round. Had that happened and Hamlin missed the Championship 4 by less than five points, he would have been screwed out of a bid for the championship just because of manufactured drama.

It won’t right the wrong on Keselowski, but hopefully NASCAR learns from this instance and gets out of its own way. It was a huge turnoff to fans in the 2000s when phantom debris cautions would come up that happened to manufacture drama or help out certain popular drivers in need of a break. There got to be so many of these that Jayski started keeping track of it. It seemed like NASCAR had finally quit getting involved in the flow of races — at least stages are planned for — but then this race happens.

Hopefully it was a one-race deal. But I will certainly keep a close eye on how the judgment calls affect the races and help or hurt the No. 9 team going forward, and I hope everyone else will do the same.

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24 Comments
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Bobby DK

What a crappy article. Wish I had that last 2 minutes back. When they added Jeff Gordon as # 13 , that was my straw breaking a camel back, WWE , not going to spend one more dollar on going to races moment. Thanks for dredging all that up again.

Misterslideways

NASCAR is a joke. We could sit here for hours and point out all of the shortcomings, the fabricated cautions, and the lack of morals and commonsense amongst those running the sport. The bottom line though is that we really don’t need to as the proof is in the grandstands and television ratings. The last fans standing are even at a loss and the higher ups don’t care. There’s no sense of urgency in rectifying the issues and the demise of NASCAR has been slow and painful to watch. I think when the television contract renews you’ll see less races aired (hence the RTA purchasing Speed51.com so at least there’s a basic outlet for races to be aired) and only then will NASCAR truly be able to rebuild from the rubble.

iceman202290

Ratings were up, click that twitter link up in the article and see all the positive feedback. Yea people moan and groan about the caution timing but the majority are happy it didnt end under caution. Ratings are up, there are a lot of JR fans who became Chase fans so they are all happy he advance (he is the most popular driver….stupid stupid award especially in this day in age but thats mpo), people are talking. Isn’t this what NASCAR wants?
There are small youtubers whos subscribers are growing
There are more and more comments on the twitter, facebook, and YouTube videos than I have seen in a long time.
Yea I dont like it, but lets face it, they are attracting more people to the sport who are younger. Just for me, it frees up a lot of time on Sundays as if either NASCAR of the NFL is on it is purely for background noise. I can’t stand either produce. Seen someone below mention WWE..haha..you think NASCAR is anything close to the WWE…go watch the NFL! Just manufactured flags everywhere that have altered a lot of games this year..should be relabeled as the WWFL but that is off topic :)

For me if they can manage to remove the dirty air effect mostly and a guy can get a run on another guy and actually pass him with then GEN-7 then I don’t care about the championship or who wins it cause I will just follow the old standings anyways and just want to see some good racing. These newer fans think this product right now is good…I say it’s better but thats cause you were looking at mud and now its dirt. When a car is 2 seconds a lap faster than the other, it shouldn’t catch the other car (on old tires) and stall out! That kills me everytime I have seen that this year.

Jeremy

I saw that ratings were up and my stomach went ill. That means ignorant people actually like this s**t – which means any hope for actual racing in NASCAR is dead. The few of us old school race fans don’t mean jack anymore. They will pander and pander and pander to this new, short attention span, unfaithful crowd to their very end — and when that crowd moves on to The Next Big Thing, NASCAR will officially be dead.

To the person who said they were ashamed to admit they still watch it and have not been able to cut the sport loose yet, I recommend giving the IRL series a shot next year. Although all the playing nice with NASCAR is making me uneasy. They are finally doing something right with that series, and now they want to buddy up with the clowns from NASCAR? Ugh…

I wish there was dirt track racing convenient to where I live, but alas… Anybody have a subscription to the Lucas Oil Racing channel? Is it decent / worth a look? Any other channels available out there On Demand that focus on grass roots dirt racing or even other racing series that are good? I’m not too picky, if there’s an engine, tires, and two or more drivers trying to go faster than the other, I’ll watch if it’s good racing.

Sol Shine

MAVTV totally worthwhile. Lots of dirt racing on there. Best four bucks a month I spend.

ben

GREAT POST JEREMY

ben

IROC IROC IROC IS THE NAME OF THE GAME FOLKS IT’S IROC CAN ANYBODY SEE THAT IT’S IROC IROC IROC & IT;S STILL BULL POOP TODAY

Chalupa Batman

Manufactured excitement? What do you think stages are? G/W/C finishes? the chase? All are manufactured drama, and excitement.. Once upon a time, before NASCAR started pandering to new fans, or allowing the networks to make rule changes, sometimes a driver lapped the field, sometimes it sucked…sometimes it was your driver. Sometimes races finished under caution. Again, sometimes it sucked…sometimes it was your driver.

I hate all of it. I hate.the chase, stages, G/W/C finishes, the lucky dog,, restrictor plates (oops sorry “tapered spacer” because they think people are stupid) builsh**t debris cautions, over regulation, fining drivers for speaking their minds, mile and a half tracks, I hate all of it.

NASCAR is background noise, a habit i haven’t broken yet. I’m embarrassed for people to know I still watch. I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship, swearing it’ll get better or that they didn’t mean it, that somehow I deserve it. I guess as long as I keep tuning in, I do deserve it.

Bill B

Wow. I think most of us could sign our names to this one. Well said.

Capt Spaulding

Sign me up……

sb

…and this is exactly the problem with having a ‘playoff’ when every team is still on the field. Pathetic.

Charlie

This one is so simple, Stevie Wonder could see it. Go back to the Roval, two of the last three cautions were not needed, except to get The Golden Boy in sight of the leaders and give him a chance, with a faster car, to take the lead, which he did.
Now, they had to get Golden Boy into the round of 8. They threw enough cautions to point Golden Boy into the final 8 and my prediction is they get him into the Chumpionship 4. It will only be Championship 4 if the results aren’t manipulated. Not fixed, but manipulated. If I bet, and I don’t, I would place $10,000.00 on Golden Boy to win it all. Remember NASCAR punished Denny Hamlin in 2018 for crashing Golden Boy at Martinsville, spoiling his chance of winning his way to the final 4.
I bet a little “enhanced interrogation,” or a polygraph issued to Steve O would reveal it. Speaking of bets, Golden Boy’s car owner plead guilty to bribery to get additional Honda inventory. Don’t put anything by “poor Rick.”
But it is no different than the NBA, NFL, and MLB.
I am using up my tickets and buying stock in NASCAR’s major sponsors. That way, I can speak at the shareholder meeting and inform them of the shady characters being dealt with.

Jeremy

I GUARANTEE Chase will win Martinsville. Why? Two things:

1) Since the tragedy in 2004, HMS has won 47% of the races at Martinsville – 53% if you include Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman’s wins in 2011/2012 when Stewart/Haas had a partnership with HMS. Prior to that, HMS was only winning 23% of the races there. They haven’t won in the last 5 races.

2) NASCAR wants Chase in the final 4.

Thus, the logical conclusion is that Chase will win this weekend at Martinsville.

ben

damn JEREMY you are good hms & government motors runs nascar & charlie hit the mail on the HEAD

Douglas Stapf

Nascar is money oriented, and racing is a by product. I think I am about done with this fixed racing, if you can call it racing any more.

ben

damn JEREMY you are good hms & government motors runs nascar & charlie hit the mail on the HEAD

ben

DOUGLAS GENERAL MORORS IS CALL THE SHOTS IN THE SO CALL SPORT

Upstate9fan

Oh boo-hoo, they’ve thrown the caution a million times for a car that hit the wall and started shredding a tire and bodywork on the apron. Brad has also benefit many times in the past from situations you could argue the yellow shouldn’t have come out (Texas Fall 2014). The comparison to Gordon after Richmond 2013 doesn’t hold water. Though, even as a Gordon fan, I didn’t like the idea of him being added as a 13th driver after the fact. That situation was brought out by the blatant cheating of other teams, not the “balls and strikes” call of when to throw the caution. On the last restart Brad was still in prime position to advance. He just didn’t have a good restart and got shuffle back with a car that struggled all day.

DoninAjax

The new “fans” today don’t know any better. They think what they’re watching is how it has always been.

jim nelms

want to see real cars and real racing with tough rules bring on australian v8 super cars maybe mr.penske could help as he is all ready involved

Marlyn Clemens

Nascar has been rigged for a long time and they will do everything they can to get the driver to win that they want to or in this case people that will end up in the final races I believe they are paid off.

QTip

Yup they were pretty jumpy there for sure. Hope he wins at least two of these last four! Go Brad!

Sol Shine

Nascar has the stupidest fans going I think. They slavishly followed Jr Earnhardt who produced diddly for results in the finest equipment available, and now Elliott is the anointed one. My brother is a totally fine example, thinking Earnhardt Jr and now Elliott are the greatest racers on earth. My brother also knows diddly squat about the realities of racing, absolutely zero, as do most Nascar “fans”. Anything to produce contrived excitement and get the outcome they want is what Nascar does. Kez is just roadkill on the Nascar agenda highway.

Kez Fan that is Realistic

What a hot garbage article.

Change the headline to: “NASCAR is manipulated because my driver sucked & fell out of the playoffs, so here is a worse way to manipulate it.”

Give Kez a “Participation Award” and be done with it.

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