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Keselowski comes close again on road course

August 13, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com



Keselowski comes close again on road course
Driver happy with hard racing that nets him second runner-up finish in two days

In more ways than one, Sunday's Finger Lakes 355 At The Glen didn't turn out the way Brad Keselowski wanted.

For the second consecutive day, he finished second in a race at the 2.45-mile road course, having done so a day earlier to Carl Edwards in the Nationwide race. On Sunday, he finished second in the Sprint Cup race at the venue for the second year in a row.

"Just really good, hard racing; some beating and banging. I think that's the way racing should be."

--BRAD KESELOWSKI

Obviously, finishing second in these races isn't all that bad. Keselowski was leading Sunday heading into the final two turns before being overtaken by race winner Marcos Ambrose, as both drivers battled cars that were sliding all over the track in what they described as a fine, thin layer of oil.

And yet, Keselowski couldn't stop smiling afterward. He and almost everyone else who participated in or witnessed the fantastic finish seemed to be of the opinion that it was hard racing the way it ought to be when cars are coming for the checkered flag.

"I got in the oil and we'd slip up," Keselowski said. "He'd get by me, and then he'd get in the oil and I'd get by him. Just really good, hard racing; some beating and banging. I think that's the way racing should be.

"It's great to race against guys like Marcos that you can run on, lean on, and they don't lose their cool and intentionally wreck you. That's what racing is supposed to be right there: a little bit of bumping and rubbing but none of that intentional-wrecking BS. Marcos is a class act, and that's the way racing should be."

Of course, to some it appeared that Keselowski had gone against his code by seemingly wrecking Kyle Busch, who was leading at the time, earlier during Sunday's final lap. He said he thought Busch's car was leaking oil, though, and denied doing it on purpose.

It later was determined that the oil being laid down on the track likely came from the No. 47 Toyota driven by Bobby Labonte.

"I got under him going into [Turn] 2 and we all slipped. ... [I] hit him and spun him," Keselowski said. "I mean, I hate to say there was nothing I could do, but there was literally nothing I could do. It was just one big giant oil slick underneath his car, and I feel bad about that."

Keselowski added that he knew Busch would be upset with him but that he hoped Busch, in time, would understand what happened and why. And that, in Keselowski's opinion at least, it could not be avoided.

"I would think that Kyle has enough racing experience and [if] he drove through it himself, he would understand what happened. I'm going to guess that he does," Keselowski said. "I had a shot to get underneath him, and I took it. The track was complete oil. Neither of us were going to make it out of that corner, and that was unfortunate.

"I think that he knows that I had to make that move and that it was no different than the move that he had to make on the restart with his position [when Busch passed Ambrose and Keselowski in one turn]. He made a very, very aggressive move on the restart that was going to wreck both of us if I didn't let him in. I could have held the position and wrecked us all. I showed understanding of his situation, and hopefully, he'll show understanding of the situation that I was in. It's certainly not the ideal situation to wreck the leader, no matter what the situation or circumstances. It was just one of those unavoidable deals."

Keselowski has yet to win at a road course in the Cup Series, but he's proving that it likely will be only a matter of time before he does. He moved from seventh to fifth in the point standings with the second-place finish.

That left his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, seeming satisfied with the effort and even the final result.

"What a race and what a finish," Wolfe said. "We had a fast Miller Lite Dodge all weekend, and it showed [Sunday]. Brad has proven that he can run a great race on road courses. This was no different.

"We went with a two-stop strategy and got lucky with some cautions falling our way that helped us get the lead. Once we got the lead, it was all Brad making sure he didn't use up all the car so we could have something at the end. We had great fuel mileage and fuel strategy that helped us be there at the end. We led a bunch of laps, and we were there at the end to have a shot at the win. That's all that you can ask for as a crew chief. I think that we've shown over the last few weeks that we've put ourselves in position to win, and that's what we are here to do, win races. It was tough not to get a win, but it was a heck of a finish."

Keselowski seemed more than able and willing to live with the second-place finish as well.

"It was just hard racing on a great race track," said Keselowski, who has three Cup wins this season. "I really enjoy coming here. This is a real road course. It seems like the other tracks are parking lots with corners. This is a real road course, and you see real racing here. I think that's what [Sunday] was.

"I'm proud of the [Saturday and Sunday] I've had. I feel like Jimmie Johnson with the cars that I've had on a road course as of late. ... Obviously I'd like to have one more position in both of [the races], but we were very, very close. I'm trying to keep into perspective how far we've come as a team to run this competitively on road courses, and it's something that I'm very, very proud of."