Brad Keselowski’s late-night rally Sunday night at Martinsville Speedway failed to land the driver of the Dent Wizard Ford in victory lane and a place in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4. next week at Phoenix Raceway.
The first phase was inconspicuous and productive for Keselowski. He ran throughout the segment among the top-five and finished fifth when it finished on lap 130. The balance on Keselowski’s Mustang was loose at the entrance and near the corner he left. He tapped for four tires and an air pressure adjustment during the shift caution and started fourth again in lap 140.
The handling characteristics of the no. 2 Ford remained much the same during Phase 2. Keselowski still had to turn better near the exit, but he pushed it aside to run consistently within the top-10 and finished in eighth place when the segment finished on lap 260. He and Kyle Busch twice waged a fierce battle for positions during the innings with Keselowski overtaking Busch for the position in the closing rounds of the segment. Keselowski was cautious on lap 264 for four tires and a rail adjustment and was ninth in line when the race turned green on lap 269.
Phase 3 started as a battle for Keselowski and the Dent Wizard team as they tried to improve the handling characteristics of their Mustang. After three pit stops, the adjustments by crew chief Jeremy Bullins brought the car to life with just over 100 laps to go. Keselowski started 13th again in round 384 and from there the march was ahead. At round 391 he was within the top-10, and at round 423 he climbed to the top-five. Bullins made a call on lap 438 to pit for Keselowski’s last stop of the race. The 2-team responded with a quick pit stop that kept Keselowski in contention. By round 460, Keselowski was up to third, and he briefly ran second before settling into fourth position when the event came to an end. The final caution on lap 495 pushed the race into NASCAR Overtime and set up a furious green-and-white checkered finish. Keselowski restarted third for the two-round dash, but could not get any closer to the front until the checkered flag fluttered.
“We gave everything we had. We just had to be a little faster in phase two to get a handful of points for us and get closer, and then in the end I was just too loose. “I just could not fit it in completely, but overall a pretty good run,” said Keselowski.
“We all just threw everything we had there. I felt we were getting closer to the end. “Jeremy Bullins and the Dent Wizard team really got the thing as close as we could get in, but that was all we had.”