DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Brad Keselowski had 10 NASCAR Cup Series playoff appearances during his career including every year since 2014, the year this format was adopted. Martin Truex Jr. had made the postseason 9 times including every year since 2015.
No one has more Championship 4 appearances than Truex Jr. Only Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have as many at 5. Keselowski has 2. It wasn’t that long ago that both Truex and Keselowski made up 50% of the 2017 Championship 4 field to which Truex took home his lone title.
Now, neither are even a part of the 16 driver 2022 playoff field.
Despite 4 Championship 4 appearances in the last 5 years, Truex is out. He missed it by a mere 3 points.
“It sucks,” Truex said of missing the playoffs. “You race your ass off all year and you work hard and you try to do all the things it takes and to come up three points short is pretty tough to swallow when I know we can do something in the playoffs.
“Yeah, I mean, it is. Hindsight is always 20/20. We gave away plenty of points throughout the season, but it is what it is.”
Truex had crash damage from the Lap 101 incident that he was collected in. That created a parachute on his car once we returned to racing after a 3+ hour rain delay. While he was in the top 4, he faded to 8th.
He just wasn’t fast enough.
“We just had too much damage at the end,” Truex said. “We had a good spot on the restart and we got a good restart. We got (Austin Cindric) up front, which is what we were trying to do, but just couldn’t keep up. Just too much damage. It’s s shame. We knew it was going to be tough with so many cars out of the race and the distance between me and (Ryan Blaney). It was going to be hard to hang on to fourth or better with a car that torn up.”
Ryan Blaney was helped by 13 cars going out of the race as a result of that Lap 137 crash which is why despite being 6 laps down, he was able to finish 15th.
“Yeah, we’re very fortunate. That’s for sure,” Blaney said.
“It was not a good day getting going and getting up early. At that point our fate was not really in our hands. All we could do is try to keep working on it and fix it to where we could make laps.
“Thankfully we were able to get enough cars throughout the wrecks that we kind of just kept moving up and were able to get in.
“That’s definitely a lot more stressful than I wanted coming into here, but I just got to give a lot of props to the 12 group, you know, for fixing it and sticking with it all day. That’s why you do it.
“Your day can start off like that, and you just stay with it and stay in the game. And it was definitely beneficial for us.”
He was involved in a Lap 30 crash that damage his No. 12 Ford. It’s the same incident that took out Keselowski and left him out of the postseason in Year 1 of his RFK Racing team.
“It’s frustrating, but whenever your season is down to one race, you’ve got a lot more going on than just that one race,” Keselowski said. “Our team put a lot of effort into getting this car ready. They brought a great car, so I hurt for them that we didn’t get a chance to show it.”
Keselowski said what’s the most frustrating by this is that they had a car capable of a win.
“We were pretty good,” said Keselowski. “We had a shot to run for it today and never got a chance to show it.
“Somebody wrecked in front of me .I’m not really sure exactly what happened, but there were just a bunch of cars wrecking in front of me. I didn’t have anywhere to go and couldn’t slow down in time, so I hate it for our team. We had a really fast race car.”