A penalty on a pit stop with less than 20 laps to go spoiled Brad Keselowski’s chances for a good finish at Sonoma Raceway. The driver of the America’s Tire Ford Mustang recovered in the closing laps to claim a 15th-place finish on Sunday afternoon.
Keselowski started ninth and ran well during the opening laps of the race. The Michigan driver was in seventh position when others on the lead lap began to pit on lap nine, just before the competition caution. Keselowski pitted one lap later for four tires and adjustments to improve lateral grip. He restarted outside the top 20 on lap 13, but rallied back to score a 13th-place finish when Stage 1 ended on lap 20. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins made the call to keep Keselowski on the track during the stage caution and he restated third on lap 24.
He held his own on the laps that followed, despite being on older tires. He pitted as scheduled under caution on lap 33 for four tires and restarted 15th. Over the final seven laps of the stage, Keselowski rallied to claim an eighth-place finish when the stage ended on lap 40. Once again, he stayed on the track during the stage caution and restarted fifth on lap 44.
From there, the strategy employed by Bullins was to pit twice over the remaining laps in the race. Keselowski pitted for four tires on lap 54 and had cycled his way back up to sixth position when he stopped once again as scheduled on lap 72. Moments later, the fifth caution of race slowed the pace, which moved Keselowski up to second place. Unfortunately, the No. 2 crew was penalized on the stop for placing equipment inside the pit box too soon. The infraction dropped Keselowski to the tail end of the field, resulting in the former championship restarting 32nd when the race went green on lap 74. From there, Keselowski did an admirable job of scrambling his way through the field and claiming a 15th-place finish at the checkered flag.
“We ran a good race and I’m proud of that” said Keselowski. “Our America’s Tire Ford Mustang was the best car I’ve had here at Sonoma in a long time. It’s just a shame we got that penalty late in the race.”