Brad Keselowski crashed out of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Talladega Superspeedway after triggering a multicar accident.
Keselowski was pushing rookie Carson Hocevar through the tri-oval bend of Talladega’s frontstretch and clipped Hocevar’s left-rear quarter panel. The contact sent Hocevar sliding into the pack, where he tipped Ty Gibbs and Austin Dillon spinning into the outside SAFER barrier. Dillon caught Keselowski in the left rear, sending the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford spinning toward the inside wall. The car briefly became airborne before the aerodynamic roof flaps set the vehicle back onto the pavement.
The crash ended Keselowski’s day, a critical blow as the 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion battles through the postseason. Sunday’s race marks the middle race of the Round of 12, with four drivers set to be eliminated from championship contention following next week’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. Keselowski entered Talladega in seventh place, eight points above the provisional divide. He will be credited with a 32nd-place finish, earning 15 points — 10 of which came from winning Stage 2. That boost of points left him two points above the line, eighth in the standings.
“I didn’t hit that hard so I’m fine. I would’ve been OK but the toe link was broke, so I wasn’t able to keep moving,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “Just unfortunate. We got shuffled to the outside line here. The 42 (Hocevar) pulled up in front of me. I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s go. We’re gonna go back up to the front.’ And I just pushed him and he kind of instantly spun out. I don’t think he did anything wrong. I just think his car probably wasn’t driving that good.
“It’s frustrating, you know? We were able to win the second stage and we were in good position there for a long time and just kind of unraveled on us. That’s how it goes here sometimes.”
Asked if Hocevar’s inexperience was factored before applying the push, Keselowski said: “Only one way to learn. Get out there and go. This is just part of this racing. You push, and I gave him a pretty light push. I don’t really think he did anything wrong. I just don’t think his car was handling well enough.”
Keselowski, Gibbs, Dillon and Hocevar were unable to continue but were evaluated and released from the infield care center. Chase Briscoe and Harrison Burton were also involved. Briscoe was able to continue toward a 13th-place finish while Burton’s race ended from suspension damage after 175 laps, resulting in a 31st-place finish.