By admin | November 4, 2012
By Richard Allen
The last 100 miles of Sunday’s Sprint Cup event in Texas provided some of the most exciting racing and some of the best drama seen in NASCAR this season. And in the heat of the moment during those late laps, several competitors allowed their emotions to boil over which resulted in some extraordinary comments.
Perhaps the spiciest of all those remarks came from 2nd place finisher Brad Keselowski as he crossed the under the checkered flag just behind winner Jimmie Johnson. Over his team radio, the driver of the Penske Racing Dodge keyed his in-car microphone and spoke to his crew members.
“Good job everybody,” Keselowski said. “Can’t do anything about it when somebody is handed the race time after time.”
The often outspoken Keselowski was no doubt referring to a series of events that set off controversy surrounding a couple of restarts in the waning laps. The Michigan native led from laps 236 to 276 in a race originally scheduled for 334 circuits. But on lap 276, a caution flag waved for debris on the racing surface. Debris cautions often come with a certain degree of controversy due the somewhat subjective nature of the rulings. That particular yellow came at a time when the #2 team believed they had a fuel mileage strategy in place that would give them a win.
Keselowski was further frustrated by the lap 276 debris caution because he had slid deep into his pit stall because an issue with his brakes and was subsequently blocked in as he attempted to leave. That miscue dropped him from the lead to 8th place in the running order.
That caution set off somewhat of a domino effect as three more yellow flags would eventually wave before the end of the 500 mile event. Those cautions brought about the controversy that would eventually result in Keselowski’s heat of the moment statement to his crew that NASCAR’s rulings had benefited Johnson.
After the restart from a lap 311 caution, Johnson claimed that Keselowski had gained an unfair advantage by taking off before the point at which drivers are allowed to go. This accusation was further backed up by Kyle Busch who had restarted 2nd at that time.
Johnson verbally challenged race officials to make a ruling over his team radio, which the sanctioning body monitors. “Come on, NASCAR,” he roared. “Look at the tape. That was bullsh*t.” However, NASCAR deemed the start a fair one and no punitive action was taken.
Finally, on the green/white/checkered restart that would ultimately decide the outcome of the race, it was Johnson who seemed to gain an advantage. Even though NASCAR rules state that the first place car must be the first to cross the line while taking the green flag, television replays showed that the second running Johnson was actually just ahead at the line. From there, the five time champion went on to the victory.
Keselowski’s post-race television comments were not quite as harsh as those made in the emotion of the moment as he crossed the finish line. “Man, I thought I had it but we kept getting all those yellows and it just kept giving them more shots,” he declared. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to execute every restart and Jimmie did a great job on the last one. I had to choose between wrecking him and winning the race and it didn’t seem right to wreck him.”
There have always been a number of fans(and even competitors) who have voiced their belief that Hendrick Motorsports drivers such as Johnson get breaks that other drivers do not. At least for a few moments in Texas, Brad Keselowski was among those.
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