After winning at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Brad Keselowski called Martinsville Speedway a ‘must-win scenario’ for his championship aspirations.
Almost calling his shot, Keselowski won the first two stages on Sunday in the First Data 500 but fell just short due to a series unfortunate events. Here’s the short version of what happened:
- Keselowski takes the lead from Chase Elliott on Lap 471
- Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate cuts a tire on Lap 485 and spins due to it on Lap 493
- Chase Elliott dives under Keselowski and slides up the track on Lap 497
From there, a series of crashes determined the outcome of the race, and Keselowski was forced to settle for a fourth-place finish. But oddly enough, Keselowski gave Elliott the bottom lane on the Lap 496 restart. That’s what allowed Elliott to stay under the No. 2 Ford and ultimately deny Keselowski a victory.
Keselowski hadn’t seen the video at the time of post-race interviews.
“I just knew I got in the corner and [Elliott] was inside me and we had contact,” Keselowski said. “I haven’t seen any more of that to really have any clarity to it. The track is just real slick on the restarts for everybody, you saw that.
“It takes about five laps for anyone to get going or more, especially the leader, but there was a lot of hard fighting here because it’s a short track. That’s what short tracks are kind of about is rooting and gauging. You try not to take anybody out, but you’ve got to sometimes rub a little bit.”
So now that Keselowski wasn’t able to complete his must-win aspirations, he’s now left with a 29-point advantage over the cutline with just Texas and Phoenix remaining to set the Championship 4. With his victory, Kyle Busch is already locked in. Martin Truex Jr. is second in points with a 67 point advantage over the cutline.
In theory, if Keselowski can simply maintain his advantage over Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott, he would be able to get in on points, regardless of who wins the next two races.
“We had a really great Alliance Truck Parts Ford,” Keselowski said. “We were able to lead laps and win the two stages and bring home a solid finish and that’s something to be proud of.”