Kyle Busch after wreck: Keselowski a 'dirty racer'
The long-simmering Brad Keselowski - Kyle Busch feud boiled over a bit Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway following an incident between the two in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Busch went into the wall following contact with Keselowski with fewer than five laps remaining as the two dueled for the lead. When asked about the incident post-race, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver told reporters "He's a dirty racer," according to NBC Sports. RELATED: Watch the incident between the two Of the incident, Keselowski said: "It's probably my fault. I haven't heard from Kyle ... he had a really fast car. … He got a really good run on me in (Turns) 1 and 2. The high lane in 3 and 4 had a lot of speed. He tried to get up and we were all right on top of each other. We both kind of got the raw end out of it, he probably more than I did. I don't think either of us wanted to make contact." The two have had multiple run-ins in the past, including in 2010 back at Bristol and 2013 at Kansas, when Keselowski went spinning across the infield with 10 laps to go following a shot from Busch in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. "I got wrecked by a dirty driver," Keselowski said at the time.
Keselowski : 'He probably deserved to win’
Brad Keselowski talks about the late-race wreck with Kyle Busch that cost both drivers a chance to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Keselowski and Busch wreck, collects Dillon
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch wreck after a tough battle collecting Ty Dillon in the process.
Keselowski and Hendrick: What might have been
On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway . It was the 36th NASCAR premier series win for the 50-year-old driver and his first with team owner Rick Hendrick. A week and a day later, Brad Keselowski won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway . It was the first career win for the 25-year-old, and the first premier series victory for independent car owner James Finch. Two distinctly different races won by two distinctly different drivers. Martin's NASCAR career was beginning to wind down; Keselowski's , on the other hand, appeared to have only just begun. But there was one string that tied the two together -- Hendrick Motorsports . HMS was home to Martin, Jimmie Johnson , Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . And it was expected by many to be the future home of the up-and-coming kid from Rochester Hills, Michigan. But a collection of factors that came together throughout the course of that season altered the racing landscape as well as the career path of Keselowski . It would be nearly three years before the next driver change at HMS. By then Keselowski had not only found a new home, but he was also on his way to winning the Sprint Cup championship. 'I WAS NOT GOING TO LOSE' The sun was out and the grandstands were packed when the 2009 Aaron's 499, the season's ninth Sprint Cup race, went green for the final time. As race leader Ryan Newman tried to keep Earnhardt Jr., the crowd favorite, in check, Keselowski darted to the inside behind Carl Edwards on the track's massive backstretch. It was a move that didn’t seem to mean much at the time. But at the start-finish line with two laps remaining, Edwards and Keselowski shot to the outside entering Turn 1. "Here they come; look at the 99 and ..." NASCAR on FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip began. " Brad Keselowski ," lead announcer Mike Joy and co-analyst Larry McReynolds chimed in. When the white flag appeared, Edwards and Keselowski had caught and were beginning to pull away from Newman and Earnhardt Jr. Racing back through the tri-oval, Keselowski turned his No. 09 Chevrolet to the outside, and then quickly dropped to the bottom as Edwards moved up to block. Realizing the bottom lane was now open, Edwards reacted quickly -- but not quickly enough. Contact sent the No. 99 Ford spinning. Edwards' car came off the track briefly and was beginning to settle back onto the track it was struck by Newman's Chevrolet. The impact sent Edwards roof-first into the frontstretch catch fence. Meanwhile, Keselowski kept his foot in the gas, racing across the finish line for the win just ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "I was not going to lose," Keselowski said in his post-race winner's interview. "I was not going to lift and (I was going to) hold my ground and consequences be damned." A full-time competitor at the time for JR Motorsports (which, coincidentally, counts Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick among its ownership group) in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Keselowski said he didn't know what the future held after his first premier series win. "I know I don't have anything locked in," he said. "That's really all I can say ... I don't have a job secured for next year, and everything to this point has been wait-and-see. I know this certainly can't hurt." But behind the scenes, moves were already underway. Finch's Phoenix Racing, which purchased it engines from HMS, had put Keselowski in the car at the suggestion of Hendrick. And the JRM/Hendrick pipeline, which grooms talent in the lower series to help restock the Sprint Cup program, was taking root. Keselowski had made two starts for Hendrick the previous year, and would make seven all together in '09, in addition to five races with Finch. Perhaps his future wasn't as cloudy as it appeared. "Rick had come out and told me, actually had made it a point to say to the media that he thought I was a future driver at Hendrick," Keselowski told NASCAR.com recently. There was only one problem. SWAN SONG? On July 4, 2008, HMS officials announced that Martin had signed a two-year agreement to drive the organization's No. 5 Chevrolet. According to the news release, Martin, who would run a full schedule in 2009, would "run a partial Sprint Cup schedule ... in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevy with a to-be-determined second driver.” By most accounts, that driver was expected to be Keselowski . But in May of '09, less than three weeks after Martin's Phoenix victory, HMS officials announced a revision to the '08 agreement. The veteran driver would return in 2010 to once again run the entire season. With Keselowski waiting in the wings and Martin winning and agreeing to return the following year, "Rick was kind of half pregnant," Keselowski said. "He (was) stuck. "My feeling was, after I had won Talladega, I'm going to get this 5 car ride partially next year, pair it with something else, let's go. I didn't know what it was going to be. We'll figure it out; let's go." A phone call and subsequent meeting with Hendrick, however, changed all that. "I was kind of expecting more of a 'Hey, we're going to expedite the process of clearing out the rest of this,' " Keselowski said of the meeting, "And instead I got a 'Hey, I don't have a ride for you. You need to figure something else out. I'll try to help.' "That was late April, early May of that year. My intent ... was to give him that time to kind of make right on it somehow, find a ride because he had made me the promise that I would have that car. It didn't sit all that well, but I understood the circumstances and so forth." Months passed and Keselowski busied himself with his full-time XFINITY Series effort at JRM while making a handful of Sprint Cup starts for Hendrick and Finch. Hendrick, in the meantime, was exploring the various avenues that might keep Keselowski in the HMS camp. Possible scenarios included Stewart-Haas Racing , at the time a two-team effort, and Red Bull Racing. Consideration was even given to fielding a Sprint Cup entry out of the JR Motorsports shop, according to the owner. But the pieces didn't fit and as the summer wore on, Keselowski's future remained uncertain. "I wanted him to wait a year," Hendrick told NASCAR.com. "... I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that Mark had done so well, and I had tried to talk (Mark) into staying. "I've told all our guys, the first time I sat down with Brad he impressed me because he was so intense about the whole car and wanted to be involved in everything. He was just so committed. I told our guys he's got the right attitude about racing and driving. I just needed him to wait." Waiting, though, wasn't part of Keselowski's plan. "My perception is a driver is a lot like a perishable fruit," Keselowski said. "You've got so much time, then he spoils and goes bad. There are a lot of variables, much like anything." PENSKE COMES CALLING The Keselowski family has always been involved in racing. Brad's father Bob was an ARCA Series standout and a former winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ron Keselowski , an uncle, scored two top-five finishes in 68 premier series starts while older brother Brian Keselowski has one or more starts in all three of NASCAR's national series. "We knew the Keselowski name from being here in Detroit," Walt Czarnecki, an executive vice president at Penske Corp., said. "His dad, his uncle, all that. They would run out at MIS ( Michigan International Speedway ) when (Penske) owned the track." But it was a business associate, lawyer/agent John Caponigro, who brought up the young driver's name during a conversation in 2009. "We thought he was committed to Hendrick," Czarnecki said. "He'd been on loan to James Finch to run several races. But some things were changing." Conversations with Keselowski ensued, in Michigan as well as Mooresville, North Carolina, where Team Penske is headquartered. "All this time," Czarnecki said, "Still having this somewhat uncertain situation with Mr. Hendrick." Team Penske had grown from a two-team to a three-team organization in '08, fielding cars for drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr . In '09 Newman departed to join owner/driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing and 32-year-old David Stremme was brought on board to fill the open seat. But the Keselowski opportunity was intriguing, according to Czarnecki. "We've tried to sign on what we consider to be the best available young drivers with a great deal of potential that we could mold and have them grow in our organization," he said. "And I think that Brad certainly fit that description. "But above and beyond that, he had a bigger vision as to what role he wanted to play in terms of the development of the team. ... Just how he saw different things coming together ... "Some of it may have been a little unrealistic; some of it was certainly the enthusiasm of a young man who had a goal in mind. ... But he had this great enthusiasm and he had this great desire and this great commitment. And that appealed to us." With the Hendrick effort seemingly stalled, Keselowski went back to Penske with a request -- to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. In addition to its Sprint Cup effort, Team Penske was fielding one full-time XFINITY Series team with driver Justin Allgaier . Expanding that program to two teams running all the races was problematic, given the economy at the time. Told such a scenario was unlikely, Keselowski was left to consider his few available options. But Penske officials continued to work until enough of the appropriate pieces were in place. "Sure enough, Roger called me one night and said 'Alright, I've got it put together,' " Keselowski said. "It kind of caught me off guard. I was sold. That's it; he made it happen." "I couldn't sit around and wait. ... Roger had gone above and beyond to put something together that I felt like was the opportunity I needed. ... The economy was on its way down fast; Roger (through his various businesses) had a lot of immunities to the economy. Rick made it very clear to me that he was not going to invest himself without having a sponsor, and the economy was not in a spot where he could facilitate that." Hendrick had been aware of the Penske interest from the beginning, having had conversations with his fellow team owner about Keselowski's status. "Roger called me and asked me could he talk to him," Hendrick said. "I didn't want to stand in his way. Brad's a hell of a talent. It was a timing issue. "It's worked out for him. At his age it would have been nice if we could have kept him. ... If I got a call from Roger and I was in his spot I would have done exactly what he did." POSTSCRIPT On Sept. 1, 2009, Team Penske officials announced that the organization had signed Keselowski to compete full-time in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series beginning the following season. Since then, Keselowski has won 17 Sprint Cup races, 28 XFINITY Series races and championships in both series. "I don't want to sound mercenary but he brought us our first Sprint Cup championship (in 2012)," Czarnecki said. "Because that vision that he outlined, we tried to work with him and bring people along, bring people into the organization, have him work with people like (crew chief) Paul Wolfe, it was really the realization of that vision. That's what it (has) meant. "And his intensity hasn't changed." Former teammates Busch and Hornish have departed, and fellow driver AJ Allmendinger has come and gone. Keselowski , now 32, is the veteran of a Penske group that now includes 25-year-old teammate Joey Logano . "I wasn’t looking to switch," Keselowski said. "If things would have gone the way they were supposed to go before Mark won that race at Phoenix, I would still be there."
Late spin yields post-race contact between Keselowski , Truex Jr.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Brad Keselowski took ownership of the final-lap, final-corner contact that sent Martin Truex Jr . looping out of second place and a last-ditch shot to win Sunday at Watkins Glen International . According to the affronted Truex, apologies can only go so far. "Hell no, it don't help," Truex said, "because you're like, 'Well, that's awesome. Thanks for saying you're sorry, but what do I get out of it?' You know what I mean? That's just racing. It's like yesterday in qualifying, you know. A guy pulls out in front of you, he says I'm sorry. Well, no s--- you're sorry, but you gotta damn stop doing stupid stuff, you know what I mean? I don't run over people all the time. I don't pull out in front of people in qualifying. So race me like I race you is all I ask." Keselowski trudged on, securing a third-place finished as Denny Hamlin pulled away to victory and Team Penske stablemate Joey Logano slipped by for the runner-up spot in the final stretch of the Cheez-It 335 at The Glen. Truex, who had closed in on Hamlin with hopes of making a final-lap challenge, salvaged seventh place after righting his damaged Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota in the final road-course race of the year for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Truex showed his post-race displeasure with multiple bumps directed at Keselowski's No. 2 Ford on the cool-down lap. Keselowski walked over to Truex's pit-road perch after parking, saying, "Hey, that was my fault, man." With his voice raised, Truex said he agreed. "I went high and the 78 went high and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him," Keselowski said, taking the blame. "That was really unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see. This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit and sometimes you don't know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him. I am proud of my guys for a really fast race car and it was another crazy Watkins Glen day." The spin to a seventh-place result was the latest spike in a weekend of peaks and valleys for Truex. His Furniture Row team provided a boost by announcing a two-year contract extension for its primary driver Thursday, then by formalizing its plans Sunday to expand to a two-car Sprint Cup operation with rookie Erik Jones in 2017. RELATED: Jones to pilot No. 77 for Furniture Row in 2017 The lows included a mediocre 14th-place starting spot, triggered by the aforementioned hold-up in Coors Light Pole Qualifying by Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Sunday's final setback left Truex with something to file away in his memory as he and Keselowski charge toward the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. "We had (Hamlin) squared up a little off (Turn) 11 and maybe could've drag-raced him to the line. It'd have been fun to see, but it was all not to be with getting hit in the left-rear," Truex said. "It's unfortunate, but you know, hard racing at the end, all of us going for a win and all of us locked in the Chase. I guess he races with that mentality that, 'Hey, it doesn't really matter where we finish or if we finish.' Just have to be mindful of that when we're around him for the rest of the time." Keselowski also addressed the situation on Twitter after the race: Frustrating finish, I feel terrible for getting into the back of @MartinTruex_Jr and bad for the #miller2crew for not winning w/fast car. — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) August 7, 2016
Keselowski , Busch lose lead due to over-aggressive restart
Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch lose the leads spots after an over-aggressive restart late in the race at Watkins Glen International.
Truex, Keselowski exchange on-track contact, talk post race
Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski exchange on-track contact after an incident between the two in the final turn of the final lap Watkins Glen International.
Cain: No need to panic about struggling Hendrick
Who's panicking? Not the Hendrick Motorsports team, as some have suggested. Working overtime, brainstorming, gritting their teeth and rolling up their sleeves? Perhaps. But this organization -- which hasn't celebrated a victory since March -- knows a little something about challenging for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series championships, and it would be naïve and foolhardy to believe the team's summer doldrums are a definitive sign of playoff potential. At least that's what history has shown us. And what Jimmie Johnson tells us. And what team owner Rick Hendrick has assured. "A lot of hard work went on during the break that we had," Johnson said last weekend at Bristol, Tennessee. "Just judging by the excitement from (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and all the way through to Mr. Hendrick, we're definitely turning over some stones and are hopeful to bring a little better product to the race track week in and week out. "We've been struggling at times, trying to produce speed and lap times of late and making mistakes in the process. We're still rallying with some decent finishes from time to time, but then again, still having some bad luck. I think Watkins Glen kind of speaks to that as well; and also self-inflicted mistakes. "I think come Chase time, in the middle of the Chase, the way things are looking back at the shop, and the excitement I see in all the departments, we're expecting a good late-season surge for Hendrick Motorsports ." Labor Day -- which traditionally marks the end of summer -- can't come soon enough for this team. Johnson is the only member of this Fab Four lineup to hoist a trophy this season, and the six-time champ did it twice right off the bat -- winning the second race of the year at Atlanta, then three weeks later in California. Chase Elliott opened his rookie campaign with 11 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races, including pole positions for the Daytona 500 and at Talladega Superspeedway . And he capped off that season-starting run with a career-best runner-up at Michigan International Speedway -- where the series returns this weekend. Kasey Kahne is also seeking his first trophy of the year, but already has six top 10s -- more than halfway to his entire total (10) from last year. And he has won at both Michigan (2006 from the pole position) and at Richmond, Virginia (2005), where the Chase field will be formally set on Sept. 10. As the Chase Grid stands now, Kahne is tied with Kyle Larson , three positions shy of qualifying. They trail 16th-place Ryan Newman by 39 points. With Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return still unknown as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms, the feared Hendrick foursome realizes it is a threesome come title time. But it remains a championship threat. "Our guys have been working really hard these past few weeks," said Elliott, who is Chase-eligible by being ranked 12th in the standings. "Everybody is fired up at Hendrick Motorsports . Mr. Hendrick himself is fired up -- he has been around the shop a lot. We are all just trying to give it the best effort we can to try and make the most of these next 14 weeks. "We are all working hard, we are all in. Hopefully, Michigan will be a step in the right direction." In the past -- such as during Johnson's jaw-dropping six title runs in eight years – this team has made it look almost too easy. So Toyota has stepped it up, winning its first Cup championship last year with Kyle Busch and collecting 11 trophies already this year. Ford's been every bit a player, as well, with Team Penske drivers -- Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano -- earning enough trophies (five) between the two of them to keep the others honest this season. And Hendrick's Chevy "alliance" partner, the Stewart-Haas Racing team, has certainly come to the party with at least three Chase entrants including 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick , who won his second race Sunday at Bristol and leads the championship standings; team owner Tony Stewart , who won at Sonoma , California; and Kurt Busch , who is ranked third in points. And while Johnson's two wins and Elliott's poles seem like it's business as usual, there is a new sense of urgency to right the Hendrick ship heading into the Chase. Johnson has the two wins, but he has only three top 10s in the last 14 races, a stretch that also includes four finishes of 30th or worse. Similarly, Elliott hasn't had a top-10 since his runner-up at Michigan. And Kahne has only one top 10 in that time. "We have been struggling this year, have not been as good as we want or should be," Hendrick said over the weekend while admitting he's even gotten up at 4:30 am to go to the wind tunnel with his team. "We know we have the ingredients and we're not satisfied, and we're going to do whatever it takes. That's been our motto all these years. We're at, what, 242 wins in Cup series? And we're not done. "Nobody's satisfied. We've wrecked more cars. … Haven't led races like we usually do. Not making any excuses, we've got to get to work. That's the deal. We're all committed and we're all excited. Nobody stays on top forever but we're not happy where we are and we want to get back." "I'm accountable," Hendrick continued. "They're accountable. "When you're not doing well, you can walk away and point fingers or you can jump in it and say, 'Let's get with it. We know how to do it. Let's get better working together.' "I'm proud of our company and we're going to be better. I like the challenge."
Brad Keselowski wrecks during Watkins Glen test
Photo credit: @ keselowski WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Brad Keselowski escaped uninjured -- "still upright," in his words -- after a scary crash Tuesday during an organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at Watkins Glen International. Keselowski had just turned a session-topping 124.572 mph on his 18th lap of the day, best of the 14 drivers participating on the freshly repaved 2.45-mile road course. But just after registering that speed, the rear brakes on his Team Penske No. 2 Ford failed, sending Keselowski's car nose-first into the tire-pack barrier in Turn 1 at the end of the long frontstretch. "Just the pedal went to the floor," Keselowski said. "It means that you've lost brakes on one of the corners. At a track like this, you're already on the edge. You don't have any room or margin for something to fail. That's the way it is." The wreck occurred midway through Tuesday's afternoon session on the first day of a two-day organizational test before the series' Aug. 7 Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Keselowski was evaluated and released from the infield care center, no worse for wear, but crew chief Paul Wolfe still lamented the circumstances. "Frustrating. You hate to put Brad in that situation," Wolfe said. "Lost rear brakes there. The fronts locked up; once you lose rear brakes like that, there's nothing you can do. Just pumping the pedal and it's not going to come back. It's unacceptable. Just got to see how we can prevent it from happening again." Keselowski tweeted video of the heavy crash and a photo of his bent steering wheel on social media to illustrate the wreck's severity. I'm ok! pic.twitter.com/Cu9yPYQnFG — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) July 26, 2016 This ain't no country club All you can do is Bend don't break... @MPI_INNOVATIONS pic.twitter.com/OYC1Gq1qee — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) July 26, 2016 Team Penske unloaded a reserve No. 2 Ford -- a car that's been a backup at several events this season -- which it planned to put on the track Wednesday. "We'll get it ready and we'll see how Brad feels," Wolfe said. "He obviously wants to get back out there, but it's not the end of the world. Fortunately we had a good test going. We were really fast, so I'm not concerned if we don't get out again. We'll get this prepared and sleep on this tonight and evaluate in the morning." Said Keselowski : "That was a test car. This is a race car. You hate to run your race cars, but we came all the way out here and not very often you get to test here, so you don't want to waste it. We'll make it work." The situation was reminiscent of a 2011 incident in which Keselowski lost his brakes during a test at Road Atlanta and broke his left ankle in the ensuing impact. He was not injured in the Watkins Glen wreck. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Keselowski talks safety, details Watkins Glen wreck
LONG POND, Pa. -- Brad Keselowski's bone-jarring crash at Watkins Glen International earlier this week was the result of an improperly installed brake line on his No. 2 Penske Racing Ford. "There was an installation error with the brakes," Keselowski said Friday at Pocono Raceway, site of Monday's Pennsylvania 400 (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "The brake line wasn't installed in the proper way and it broke." Keselowski's accident occurred July 26 during the first day of a two-day organizational test for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at WGI. The series is scheduled to compete there Aug. 5-7. Moments after completing a session-leading lap of 124.572 mph on the 2.45-mile road course, Keselowski's Ford went off track and nose-first into the tire barrier located at the end of the frontstretch. He was not injured in the high-speed impact, and was back on track the following day in a backup entry. "I understand the whole tire barrier concept," Keselowski , said. "In general, I'm not comfortable with tracks that have runoffs that lead to very harsh angles, and that's certainly the situation that (WGI) has, and always has had it. "Road courses remain the most dangerous tracks in motorsports for a good reason because of that, but we know that going in. Some place has to be the safest and some place has to be the most dangerous." Safety advances made by NASCAR as well as many of the teams competing today have lessened the likelihood of serious injury, but the threat remains. In 2011, Keselowski won at Pocono less than a week after chipping a bone in his ankle during a hard crash during testing at Road Atlanta. That incident led to a complete evaluation by the organization of its safety protocols. The result was a redesign of the pedals, floorboard and seat, he said, and the evolution of steering wheels and other interior pieces have lessened the threat of serious injury as well. "From what I can tell at this moment, all of the pieces that we were able to redesign performed very well," Keselowski said of the WGI incident. "The one piece that we weren't able to redesign was the steering column. That's probably the weakest link in those type of impacts at the moment." What else needs to be done? Keselowski admitted he doesn't have the answer. "The answers I do have," he said, "is that there's only so many of those hits you are going to take before someone gets killed. It's just the way it is. "It's not something I'm comfortable with, but I think as a sport there are a lot of different ways to look at it. At the end of the day I'm still standing here. "That's something that the smart guys that work on that stuff are going to have to figure out some time."