Keselowski, Kurt Busch clash at Martinsville
March 30, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Brad Keselowski got the agony-of-defeat end of Sunday's STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, and even though his chances for the thrill of victory were thwarted just a tenth of the way into the race, he was still fuming after the checkered flag.
While rival Kurt Busch was in Victory Lane, Keselowski was left to lament a 38th-place finish, his worst of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He had some harsh retribution for his former teammate during the race and equally harsh words afterward.
"He does awesome things for charity, and he's probably the most talented race car driver, but he's also one of the dumbest," Keselowski said, "so you can put those three together."
Told that Busch had radioed his crew during the race to say that he planned to rearrange his face, Keselowski seemed willing to let him try.
"Tell him come here. I'm right here," Keselowski said as he stood behind his damaged No. 2 Team Penske Ford. "He knows where I'm at. Leave Victory Lane. We'll go."
Keselowski's woes began during the second caution period of the race, a competition yellow that NASCAR scheduled on Lap 40 in the 500-lap event. When the field came in for wholesale pit stops, Keseloswski drove into the back of Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet, slamming the front of the No. 2 Ford on the congested pit lane. Shortly thereafter, Busch's No. 41 Chevy plowed into Keselowski, leaving all three cars with damage.
Keselowski limped back to the garage for repairs and returned to the track after his crew removed much of the front sheet metal from the No. 2 car. More than 30 laps down, Keselowski engaged his rival on the track, hooking a hard left into the side of Busch's car down the straightaway and making an obscene gesture toward Busch outside the driver's-side window -- both moves that left Busch surprised by the reaction.
"I can't believe he overreacted and he's as upset as he is," Busch said. "The 5 car was trying to pull into his box, Brad ran into the back of him, I steered right to go around Brad and then he clobbers our left‑side door, and it's like, 'OK, accidents happen on pit road.' It's congested. It's not a place to race, because of all the pit-crew guys down there and I didn't think much of it, and then once we were back out running, he targeted us, he was aiming for us. He tried to flatten all four of my tires. That's a no‑fly zone. That's a punk‑ass move and he will get what he gets back when I decide to give it back."
Though Keselowski laid blame on Busch during a TV interview while his car was being mended, Busch was predicting doom as he pointed fingers in a radio message to his crew.
"We just got destroyed by the 2 car," Busch said. "The left rear just got hammered. Probably ruined for the rest of the day."
But Busch's prediction didn't come true in the best possible way as he notched his first victory of the season, and all but clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason. Keselowski said the turn of fortune didn't make him feel any more or less sour about the outcome.
"That's just racing. You can't get caught up in that stuff," said Keselowski, who fell three spots to seventh place in the Sprint Cup standings. "Doesn't make you happy, but it's just racing."
Keselowski indicated that the two have had occasional run-ins in the past, mentioning an early crash that sidelined him last year at Kentucky Speedway. While Keselowski backed off his initial statements on Monday and expressed that he continued to have respect for his former Penske teammate's talent, he said at the time of Sunday's run-in that the pattern of racing incidents had grown tiresome.
"Same thing. He wrecked me for no reason 50, 30 laps in, whatever … early in the race, just being overaggressive," Keselowski said of the Kentucky altercation. "Aggressive is good, but Lap 50 wrecking somebody -- if you're going to be aggressive, wreck yourself, don't wreck me. I'll remember that when it's Lap 50 and he needs a break and he'll find his ass turned around in the wall, just like he tore my car up.
"That (expletive) will come around. Once or twice when it happens, you go, 'eh, you know. it happens,' but when it happens repeatedly, you just realize this person is at fault and you make sure you show 'em you're not going to take that. And I'm not going to take it, and I know this 2 team's not going to take it.
"We had a race-winning car today and instead, we finished 30-whatever with the whole front end tore off it. It's inexcusable for my team, and I'm not going to put up with that."