AVONDALE, AZ — Brad Keselowski finished 2.740-seconds off of his second career Cup Series championship. He feels like the lack of track position in the end cost him a shot at the title. That lack of track position was a byproduct of slow pit stops all day for his No. 2 Ford crew.
They lost six spots on his first pit stop which was a sign of things to come the rest of the day. He lost 12 spots on pit road overall including two spots on his final stop when he had a slow stop on the rear of his car which dropped him 4.7 seconds back following that. He entered the final pit sequence second and came out fourth.
He’d make up two seconds in the end, but with being so far out, he couldn’t close the gap even further due to the checkered flag falling.
“You know, obviously at the end of Stage 2 I was right where I wanted to be, in the lead, and we lost a spot, which is not fun,” Keselowski said. “But it’s a team effort, and just was tough to fight back through.
“We got up to second there at the end, and I feel like we were pretty equal. The 9 car and I would have loved to have had a chance to race it out, but that’s not the way it played out.”
Keselowski, did move by Denny Hamlin, then his teammate Joey Logano with 10 to go, but he ran out of time. The Team Penske driver scored his third top five finish at Phoenix since 2015 and his fourth straight top six finish to close out the season.
“Needed to have a late race yellow,” Keselowski said of the race. “Pretty good there at the end, didn’t have the track position to show it.”
The Truck and Xfinity Series races had late race cautions which completely changed the outcome of both races. Keselowski was hoping for one on Sunday but it never happened. We only had four cautions all day, two for stage breaks and another for the Lap 30 competition caution. We went the entire final stage green.
“I felt like I did all I could do today,” Keselowski said. “I’m disappointed, but I’m also proud at the same time. My team brought a great car and we ran a hell of a race. You know, won Stage 2 and made a convincing case that we probably could have won the race today, but it just didn’t come together with the track position.
“I can be disappointed in that. I think I’m probably more focused on the positives. We were really fast. I felt like I ran a great race, and I’m proud of that.”