News & Media

Keselowski, Truex involved in garage fender-bender

September 15, 2012, Mark Aumann,

JOLIET, Ill. -- You expect racing accidents to happen at 180 mph on the track, not at snail-like speeds in the garage area.

Tell that to Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.

Both Chase drivers wound up missing portions of Friday's final 90-minute practice at Chicagoland Speedway when they were involved in a fender-bender while trying to navigate the garage area.

"It's one of those deals that you never want to happen. ... It scared me pretty bad."




Practice 1
2.Dale Jr.180.68129.887
3.B. Keselowski179.78430.036
4.T. Bayne179.69530.051
5.D. Hamlin179.62330.063
2.A. Almirola181.21429.799
3.M. Martin181.12329.814
4.C. Edwards181.05029.826
5.D. Hamlin181.00129.834

Like many tracks on the circuit, Chicagoland has two rows of garages -- with the haulers parked in between. That requires a NASCAR official to "direct traffic" as cars merge at the intersections of the aisles on their way in and out of the garage.

In this particular instance, Keselowski realized fairly late that the official wanted him to stop. And when he jammed on his brakes, Truex hit him from behind. Even at a relatively minor speed, the impact did significant damage to both cars.

Crew chief Paul Wolfe said the whole deal was a lesson in miscommunication.

"Brad says the official was waving at him," Wolfe said. "He thought the official was waving at him to stop. So he slowed to stop, and [Truex] just ran right into the back of us.

"So I don't know if the official was waving for us to come or to stop, but there was some miscommunication there. Other than losing a few minutes of practice, it was no big deal."

Truex said he also was confused by the directions as to whether he should go or stop.

"I couldn't tell what [the official] was doing," Truex said. "Brad started to go and I was like, 'All right, I guess we're going.' Then I was just checking to make sure a car wasn't coming and I looked over. And when I looked back, [Brad] had already hit the brakes.

"My bad, totally my fault. You get in a hurry getting out of the garage and it was just hard to see what the guy was doing."

While Truex needed to have the fender above his right-front tire massaged back into shape, the contact folded under the rear bumper of the No. 2 Dodge -- although most of the damage seemed cosmetic rather than functional.

Keselowski's crew was able to bend the fender back into place and he returned to the track about 15 minutes later. His best lap of the session was 180.018 mph, good enough for 16th out of the 46 cars which made it onto the track.

"It was a great day, actually, in both race trim and qualifying trim for us," Wolfe said. "Qualifying is an area where we need to get better, and I think we made maybe some small gains in that area. Brad seems real happy with the car."

The same could be said for Truex after taking his No. 56 Toyota out for a shakedown run after repairs were made and confirmed that the car was good to go.

"We're fine; they fixed it," Truex said. "I got a little nervous though, because I could see a little crack under the hood and it bent the hood hinge a little, but we ended up being fine.

"It's one of those deals that you never want to happen. And you see it happen [to others] and think, 'Damn, that must suck.' It scared me pretty bad."

Another Chase regular who sat out most of Happy Hour was Matt Kenseth. After making one fairly slow lap early in the session, Kenseth returned to the garage.

The No. 17 Ford crew began extensive modifications to the car, including pulling off both rear tires and removing duct work from the passenger compartment. Kenseth stood on the sidelines, watching them work as the minutes ticked away.

With less than 20 laps remaining in the session, Kenseth got back in the car and promptly turned a pair of laps over 180 mph, good enough for ninth on the speed chart.

Kenseth's teammate, Greg Biffle, wished he could find a little more speed after failing to crack the top 15 with a best lap of 179.015 mph.

"We're not where we want to be, it's unfortunate," Biffle said. "We want to be the fastest and we're simply not there."

The fastest four drivers in Friday's final tune-up were all non-Chase drivers: Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards. The next four -- Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Kenseth -- all have championship aspirations.