Keselowski, Busch survive for top fives after first-lap crash

Logan Whitton/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski looked to be the class of the field going into Saturday’s Irish Hills 250.

It took all of half of a straightaway for that to change.

After starting on the front row, the two drivers collided on the race’s start in a crash that sent Kyle Busch spinning into the infield grass below Turn 1, and forced both drivers to fight through damage for the remainder of the day.

How it Happened

Starting on outside lane after claiming the pole, Busch got the jump on Keselowski when the green-flag flew. The Las Vegas, Nevada native cleared Keselowski shortly after the start-finish line, and dove low to block him.

Seeing Busch’s move, Keselowski jumped to the high lane to make a run at the lead. Busch then moved back up in what appeared to be a block, but Keselowski was already there.

The two drivers touch. Busch spun.

The caution flag flew.

“I don’t think he knew I was there,” Keselowski said after the race. “I lifted the best I could, I guess I just didn’t do a good enough job lifting. I was already pulling up alongside of him. I tried to lift but I guess we could have done a better job. I had a big run and tried to go to the bottom and tried to go to the top. There was only so many places to go on the race track.”

The Aftermath

After coming together, Keselowski and Busch couldn’t have been further apart coming to the next green flag.

Both drivers sustained damage, but Busch’s circumstance appeared far worse.

Keselowski led. Busch was 40th.

Despite the damage his No. 22 Ford sustained, Keselowski went on to be a contender in the race. The Michigander led the way for 54 of the race’s 125 laps, and found himself fighting for the win up until the day’s final restart. It was there that the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion said the damage hindered him.

“I tore my car up on the start of the race and had a little damage that wasn’t making it any faster,” Keselowski said. “That was a bummer for everybody. I was just too loose. I couldn’t really make anything happen. We all gave it our best.”

While Keselowski fought for the lead, Busch methodically rose through the field.

With his Joe Gibbs Racing team repairing his battered No. 18 Toyota on each pit stop, the Nevadan rose into the top 20 over the race’s first 50 laps. By the time the day’s final caution fell, he was inside of the top 10.

“The car was the biggest piece of **** out there, and I made something happen with it,” Busch told ESPN’s Bob Pockrass.

On the race’s final restart, Keselowski pushed eventual winner Denny Hamlin off to contend for the lead while Busch rose through the field.

Two laps later, the rival drivers came home with a pair of top fives, just .728 seconds apart – Keselowski in fourth, Busch in fifth.

Just another day at the office for two of NASCAR’s finest.

Busch and Keselowski will return on Sunday for the FireKeepers Casino 400.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *