Keselowski rebounds early trouble to finish fifth at Texas

Rusty Jarrett/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

Before the opening lap was complete, Brad Keselowski had an uphill battle after contact from Kyle Busch sent him down pit road. Luckily, Keselowski and the No. 2 Ford team were able to recover for a fifth place finish.

On the opening lap of the race, Ky. Busch was on the bottom of the first and second turn. Busch washed up the racetrack into Keselowski. Keselowski and Busch quickly went down pit road to repair the damage. The contact for Keselowski knocked the valve stem off the left rear tire. While pitting under green, Keselowski only lost one lap to the leaders.

Because the first stage went green, numerous cars took Keselowski’s opportunity of receiveing the free pass away. Keselowski finished the first stage in the 27th position.

Shortly after the second stage began, the caution flew for a spin by Kasey Kahne and Daniel Suarez off of turn two. Because Keselowski was the first car one lap down, he was able to receive the free pass. The caution provided needed relief for Keselowski. Once back on the lead lap, Keselowski began his progress towards the front.

By the conclusion of the second stage, Keselowski worked his way to the 14th position. The final stage of the race saw Keselowski silently working his way into the top-five.

“We had a pretty good car.  Something happened on lap one and basically we started the race last and a lap-and-a-half down.  That cost us a bunch of stage points, but we rallied with a solid effort to get back to fifth.  I’m happy for that.”

With the early race incident, Keselowski was over 20 points below the cutoff line. Because of the persistence of the team and driver, Keselowski leaves Texas Motor Speedway with a 19 point cushion over fifth place driver, Denny Hamlin, going into the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix Raceway. Keselowski scored zero stage points.

“We still want more. I hate giving away those stage points. 19 points isn’t terrible for a cushion. We will need to go and have a solid race at Phoenix and hope none of the other guys win. It’s doable, but it’s going to be a nailbiter for sure,”  said Keselowski.

Despite not scoring any stage points, Keselowski was proud with how his team was able to rally from early adversity.

“It was a nice response for sure.  That’s what you hope for.  We’ve had really great efforts the last two weeks.  We probably arguably deserve a little better result, but I’m still proud of the effort with strong, solid days with top fives.  You take these Playoff races and get two top fives in the last round that’s pretty strong, I’d like to have a win, but we were in position to win last week and a top five this week.  We just need to do the same or be a little more next week.”

With Harvick’s win and Truex locking himself into the final four at Homestead, Keselowski holds the final transfer spot to be able to compete for a championship.

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