Brad Keselowski’s chances for a respectable finish Saturday night at Daytona ended when the driver of the PIRTEK Ford Mustang wrecked seven laps from the checkered flag. Keselowski was credited with a 33rd-place finish and enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 10th in the standings, 44 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
The opening stage was a mixed bag for the driver of the No. 2 Mustang. He started 10th and at times ran among the top-five. Unfortunately, he was shuffled out of line late in the segment and was credited with 15th-place when Stage 1 concluded on lap 50. Keselowski pitted during the stage caution for four tires on lap 52 and once again two laps later to top off his fuel tank before restarting 13th on lap 55.
The early laps of Stage 2 were calm by Daytona standards. Keselowski had worked his way up to sixth-place by lap 67 but three laps later was pushed out of line and shuffled back in the lead draft. But the driver of the PIRTEK Ford rebounded and worked his way back up to sixth with just 10 laps to go in the segment. Unfortunately, Keselowski couldn’t get drafting help to line up behind him and was shuffled back to 13th when Stage 2 ended on lap 100. The good news was that Keselowski was pleased with the balance of the No. 2 Mustang. He pitted on lap 102 for four tires and took the green flag 17th in line on lap 105.
The final segment of the race was a rollercoaster for Keselowski. He was able to run among the top-10 but once more got squeezed out of line in the draft. He pitted for fuel-only under green on lap 123 and lost a lap before the leaders were forced to pit road. Keselowski got the free pass thanks to the fifth caution on lap 141 then received cosmetic damage in the aftermath of a multiple car accident six laps later when he slowed to miss the accident and was turned sideways. Despite all these challenges, Keselowski was in position to score a good finish. He restarted 22nd on lap 150 and just four laps later had worked his way up to ninth-place in the running order. But his night ended on lap 157 when he was involved in a pileup off Turn 4, leaving him with a 33rd-place finish
“I checked up a little bit. The 37 (Ryan Preece) was flying in front of me and I had to check up for that and got hit from behind. It’s unfortunate. Another foot and we’d have been in a great position here to have a run to win the race,” said Keselowski. “I was doing great all the way until the 37 starts spinning. I checked up and just barely got the quarter panel, so it’s a bummer. We’d been putting ourselves in position and trying to be smart and just missed it by a little bit.”