Keselowski on brink of crown
AVONDALE, Ariz.—When the fighting stopped, the oil had dried, and the last of the wrecked cars had been towed away, Brad Keselowski found himself on the brink of a first Sprint Cup title for himself and team owner Roger Penske.
Only he wasn’t in a celebratory mood.
And moments after Keselowski raced his way into the lead, a blown tire caused Johnson to crash and take his battered car to the garage for repairs.
It helped Keselowski, who finished sixth, to a 20-point lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he’ll clinch the title with a finish of 15th or better.
“I wanted to take the points lead by winning a race and not relying on a failure,” Keselowski said.
Johnson’s sudden misfortune was a dramatic and stunning turn in the most chaotic race of the year. It proved to be just the warm-up act in a race that could go down as the one many fans will call the best of the season.
Probably for all the wrong reasons. And that’s what had Keselowski so upset.
“I’m more just disappointed in the quality of racing that we saw,” he remarked.
“I thought it was absolutely ridiculous, and I was ashamed to be a part of it.”
Kevin Harvick snapped a 44-race losing streak by beating Kyle Busch on a pair of late restarts—the ironic winner on the same weekend news leaked he’s reportedly signed a deal to leave Richard Childress Racing to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
Harvick and Busch crossed the finish line ahead of a melee of crashing cars—a chain reaction caused, in part, because NASCAR failed to throw a caution when Danica Patrick was spun on the restart.
Then others slid in oil, into Patrick’s wrecked car, bounced all over the track, and even Keselowski was hit.
“There was a lot of stuff on the race track, there was oil all over it. Ray Charles could see that,” fumed second-place finisher Denny Hamlin.
Busch, who finished third, also saw the oil all over the track.
“Not sure if [NASCAR] had time to react to all that, but granted, you would expect that they would see all of that and see the oil slick,” he remarked.
“I mean, it wasn’t small by any means. It was three feet wide.”
But the carnage simply was the final exclamation point in a sequence triggered by four-time champ Jeff Gordon. He intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, and that led to a full brawl in the garage and a red-flag of nearly 15 minutes for clean up on the track.
Keselowski was tweeting during the delay from inside his car—a practice he first did during a jet fuel fire in the season-opening Daytona 500—and NASCAR had officially reached three-ring circus status.
“The sport was made on fights. We should have more fights. I like fights,” Harvick said after the race.
“They’re not always fun to be in, sometimes you’re on the wrong end, but fights are what made NASCAR what it is.”