Keselowski wrecks, title hopes take hit
June 30, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
Related: Keselowski, Biffle Q&A following wreck
SPARTA, Ky. -- Brad Keselowski’s chances of defending his Sprint Cup Series championship took a big hit -- figuratively and literally -- Sunday afternoon on the same track that jump-started his title run a season ago.
Keselowski slammed the outside wall hard on Lap 48, the climax of a multi-car accident at Kentucky Speedway that temporarily red-flagged an event already pushed back a day by rain. Kurt Busch moved up the track in Turn 1 and inadvertently turned the defending champion, who collected several others -- including Greg Biffle -- behind him.
The accident knocked Keselowski out of an event he won a year ago. Then, he used the victory to spark a run of top-10s that cemented him as a title contender. Now, he’s mired in a stretch in which he’s managed only a single top-10 finish in his past nine starts.
“Just a wreck,” Keselowski said. “Wrecks happen, but it takes a chain of events to get there. We had the bottom lane on about two or three restarts in a row and kept getting shuffled back. Just trying to be patient, because it looks like we’re going to be able to get the whole race in with the rain. There was no reason to drive like an animal. I’m the only one who got that memo. But just one of them deals.”
Paul Menard, Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil also sustained damage in the accident, as did Biffle, who won two weeks ago at Michigan. “I just had nowhere to go,” he said. “Couldn’t get it turned down to miss him.” The wreck snapped a streak of three straight top-10 finishes that had lifted the Roush Fenway driver to sixth in the standings.
“I’ve been here before,” he said. “That will knock us out of the top 10 in points. Just work hard, that’s all we can do. Can’t point fingers until we can go back and see the replay and analyze what happened. Reality is, we should have been up further. But they were wrecking up there, too.”
Busch took the blame for accidentally nudging Keselowski up the track and sparking the accident. “The track just threw me right back into him,” he told his No. 78 team over the radio. “It was all my fault.” The race was stopped under a red flag for more than 18 minutes to clean up debris.
“I know he didn’t intentionally wreck me,” Keselowski said. “Just one of those things, a chain of events, and with the way these cars drive, and the track’s got that a really bad bump down there. We all know that, so there’s no reason to go down there, but (he) still did.”
The wreck comes at a perilous time for Keselowski, who entered the day ninth in the standings, and nine points out of 11th place. The Penske Racing driver also has yet to record a race victory that would improve his chances of earning a Wild Card berth to the Chase for the Sprint Cup, should he need to fall back on it.
“Were just going to go do our thing,” he said. “We’re just on that little streak of bad luck. It will turn around, and when it does, we’ll be back in Victory Lane and be all right.”
Keselowski's team repaired his No. 2 car and the reigning series got back in the race, finishing 33rd. But it was still a costly day for him in points -- he dropped four places in the standings to 13th, and is fourth in the Wild Card standings due to his lack of a victory. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart maintain the top two positions in that table by virtue of their race wins earlier this year.