Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski set back by mid-race accident

Barry Cantrell/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Their paths varied greatly throughout the afternoon, but in the end it was one choice moment that defined the days of Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski at Watkins Glen International (WGI).

Much like in 2012, that moment was a collision.

After dominating the race’s opening stage, Busch was battling with Keselowski for seventh on a Lap 45 restart when the two drivers made contact, sending them both spinning off-course. The duo each continued on without issue, but lost all of their track position – each falling outside of the top 30.

Keselowski searched for answers after the race, unsure of that caused the crash.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I was going into the corner and I had the (No.) 47 (of A.J. Allmendinger) behind me and when I got into the corner the 18 (of Busch) next to me. My spotter called it but we were already in the corner. It was too much for me to avoid. We got into each other and that hurt everybody.”

While no one at the race track got a comment from Busch, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion later responded to a fan on Twitter with his take.

Bouncing Back

(Photo: Barry Cantrell/NKP)

From that moment on, both the No. 2 Team Penske and No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing teams set about salvaging their days.

Busch came to pit road immediately for tires. Keselowski followed suit four laps later amid worries about his tires. When a caution flag flew moments later on Lap 54 for Landon Cassill, the two drivers each had an opportunity to pit again and rejoin the standard pit sequence. Busch did just that, but Keselowski stayed out.

Keselowski took the lead as a result of his team’s strategy call, but the Michigander also knew he would have to pit one more time to make it to the end of the 90-lap race on fuel. In the end, that was Keselowski’s undoing.

A long green-flag run to the finish saw Keselowski trade the lead back and forth with eventual winner Martin Truex Jr., leading 20 laps in the process. The 2012 MENCS champion stretched out his advantage to over six seconds as the laps wound down, but was forced to pit road with four laps remaining for fuel after the caution flag never flew. The two-time WGI runner-up could have potentially salvaged a top five from there, but made the mistake of driving through too many pit boxes on his stop – inciting a penalty from NASCAR officials.

After serving the penalty, Keselowski took the checkered flag in 15th.

“Tough break,” Keselowski said. “I guess I drove through too many pit stalls leaving. Gosh, it’s a bummer. We weren’t the fastest car today but we raced real hard and with a lot of heart. That put us in position. I hate that I cost us a top-five to a 15th. Good effort all around.”

Busch never factored into the battle for the win like Keselowski, but played the ever-changing strategy correctly to secure a seventh-place result that elevated the Pocono Raceway winner to second in the championship standings.

As previously stated, no one was able to elicit a comment from Busch after the race. But the Nevadan did share his frustration to a fan on Twitter.

Sunday’s race added another chapter to a colorful history between Keselowski and Busch – one that’s seen the two drivers collide many times on-track while largely avoiding each other off of it. Given their history and understanding of each other, Keselowski admitted the two likely wouldn’t discuss their WGI run-in.

“Nah,” Keselowski said. “I don’t think he is really the listening type, so that is pretty doubtful.”

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