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Kes overcomes battle with blower, gets pit penalty

April 07, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

After pit stops during opening laps, the No. 2 gets hit with crucial late penalty

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FORT WORTH, Texas -- Leaning against his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford in the Texas Motor Speedway garage following Monday’s rain-delayed Duck Commander 500, Brad Keselowski was calm, cool, collected -- even encouraged.

And that was without a trophy.

Despite getting a pit road speeding penalty on the final pit stop moments before a green-white-checkered finish, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champ employed perspective over emotion after a tough ending to an impressive afternoon.

He would have restarted fourth for the final scramble -- the second driver with four fresh tires -- but instead was penalized for speeding out of the pits and had to line up 18th -- the last car on the lead lap.

Instead of dicing it up with his Penske Racing teammate -- and eventual race winner Joey Logano -- for the victory, the Las Vegas winner finished 15th.

“I’m sure I was [speeding],’’ Keselowski told reporters, even managing a slight smile. “NASCAR has its telemetry and all that stuff to make sure it’s right.

“I knew I was there on the limit so I wasn’t really that surprised. We were trying all we can to get out front and get ourselves in position to win these races. I probably reached a little too far, but that’s OK. Everyone had an all-in effort and it’s about wins not seconds, thirds, fourths or fifths.”

Keselowski’s day was actually bookended with pit road activity. He and a half dozen other cars were slightly damaged during the race’s pace laps in one of the more bizarre occurrences.

The massively powerful jet dryers finishing up their track drying work after a full day of rain Sunday, blew up the hood flaps on some cars when passing them on track.

NASCAR allowed the cars to pit and make repairs (Keselowski’s team used duct tape and Bondo putty to keep the hood in tact) and then return to track and assume their starting positions -- for Keselowski that was the front row for the fourth time in seven weeks.

“I’m not sure I understand the whole scenario but I’m thankful NASCAR gave us a little bit of a break and I think it was a fair break,’’ Keselowski said.

Even after the inauspicious start, Keselowski positioned himself to become the first two-time winner of the season. He led three times and his 85 laps out front was second best on the day to his teammate Logano’s 108. He was trailing Logano by 2-seconds when the caution came out a half-lap shy of the white flag.

Logano’s win helped Team Penske join Stewart-Haas Racing as only the second organization to have multiple drivers win in 2014.

But it wouldn’t have happened if up to the fiercely competitive Keselowski. He was genuinely happy to see Logano win and appreciative of how that reflects on the overall team. However, Keselowski completely dismissed any suggestion that he might have settled for second or raced Logano any less intensely to “take one for the team.”

In fact, he laughed out loud at the very notion.

“I hope they know that wasn’t the case, because I definitely wasn’t doing that,’’ Keselowski said with a grin. “I was giving 105 percent, that’s why I got a speeding penalty. I broke the rules the other way.”

 

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