Brad Survives Hectic Richmond Race in P4

The final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season at Richmond International Speedway was one to remember. With a new track record 16 cautions and a red flag in the 400 lap event, Brad Keselowski managed to cross the finish line in fourth.

He closed the regular season at No. 1 on the Chase Grid, his four wins earning him 12 bonus points to start the postseason. While he came away disappointed that he couldn’t bring his win total to five, his 12th Top 5 finish of the year has him as one of the drivers to beat going into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“I thought it was just a hard fought Richmond night race, with a lot of yellows at the end,” Brad said. “Just wish I could have cleaned up a few mistakes and maybe snuck in a win.”

2016 NASCAR Richmond

Kes started the race from the 17th position, but by the end of the opening lap, worked his way up to 14th. He also passed Ryan Newman prior to the first caution of the evening from Ryan Blaney crashing on lap 11. Once the green dropped again on lap 17, Brad started off in the right direction as made his way up to seventh when the second caution flew on lap 85 for A.J. Allmendinger spinning on the frontstretch.

Throughout the second quarter of the race, BK found himself stalled out in the fourth to seventh range, until facing a pit road speeding penalty during a lap 222 debris caution. Restarting 21st, the 2012 Sprint Cup Champion didn’t stay down long. Within 30 laps he busted back into the Top 10, and by lap 277, cracked the Top 5 as well.

During a lap 292 caution for a Michael Annett wreck, crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver in to replace his four Goodyear Eagles in 13.8 seconds. As some of the leaders stayed out on the track, Brad restarted 12th—and again, started climbing back towards the front.

The lap 332 restart brought out a controversial moment for Brad, as he missed a shift heading into the first turn, and as a result washed up the banking and into Matt Kenseth’s car. The contact between them was just enough for the No.2 tailpipe to slice into Kenseth’s left rear tire, leaving the No. 20 to spin out two laps later. 

“I just missed a shift and ruined Matt’s day, so I can understand. I made a mistake and it’s crappy for everyone. Hopefully he’ll accept my apology,” BK said. “Certainly I didn’t want to miss a shift for myself, let alone him. When I got in the corner, I just missed the corner. I was trying to get it in gear, and it looks like it cut his tire down so apologies to him and his team. It’s not what anybody wants to see, including myself.”

2016 NASCAR Richmond

While the dustup will remain in Keselowski’s head for a while, the highlight of the event came on lap 363 from contact between former teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. The aggression from the two racers caused a red flag on the backstretch, also collecting the likes of Dylan Lupton, Brian Scott, David Ragan, Carl Edwards and Allmendinger.

Wolfe once again called his driver in to fit four new slicks to the car, and to make a slight adjustment to alleviate the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford’s loose condition.

As the race leaders stayed out, BK restarted 15th on lap 368, passing two cars before the end of the lap. The White Lite’s long-run strength showing, by lap 380 BK broke back into the Top 5, and after another 10 laps, he took command of third.

But with just two laps to go, Regan Smith wrecked in the fourth turn, bringing out the final caution, and an Overtime finish—not where Kes wanted to be with a car tuned for long runs. In the final two lap sprint, Kyle Larson with fresh tires passed the Deuce as Brad came home in fourth as Denny Hamlin joined Brad and Kyle Busch as the only drivers with three or more wins this season.

“The 11 and 78 ran a great race, so did Larson at the end, and we finished right behind them,” he said. “We just need a little bit more.”

The Team Penske crews have one week to see what they can come up with as they enter the Chase for the Sprint Cup at a tie for the top seed. Both BK and defending Cup champoin Kyle Busch will carry 12 bonus points into the first round—giving them a leg up as they both eye a second championship. The 10-race postseason kicks off with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway, live on NBC Sports Network at 2:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Sept. 18.

View Entire Article Here