DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — The newly dubbed RFK Racing swept the pair of Duels here in Daytona back in February. Was this team about to explode? Was all Roush Fenway Racing needed was Brad Keselowski buying into it?
Daytona is a place that can give you a false sense of security however. Success here doesn’t translate over to most of the other tracks. While RFK won the Duels and saw Keselowski lead the most laps in the Daytona 500, they fell back down to earth a week later in Fontana. Keselowski had 3 straight finishes outside the top 20. It wasn’t until the 20th race of the season that he got his first top 10 finish.
Chris Buescher was 35th in Fontana and 18th in Vegas. He did get a top 10 at Phoenix and Atlanta but was outside the top 10 in 9 of the next 11 races. However, he was starting to surge though. The Texas native had 5 top 10 finishes in his No. 17 Ford in the last 10 races including 3 in the last 4 weeks.
That gave RFK Racing pause for consideration that they could pull this off this weekend. Maybe 1 of them could win Sunday’s rain delayed Coke Zero Sugar 400. Buescher crossed the finish line 2nd here last year before penalty. He was 3rd and 9th respectively in 2020. He had momentum.
Keselowski has 7 superspeedway wins to his credit including a win in this very race in 2016.
Unfortunately, both cars left the track on the wrecker.
Keselowski was collected in that Lap 30 crash ending his day in 38th. Buescher was caught up in that big crash in the rain on Lap 137 and would limp home 12th. Neither would be part of this year’s 2022 playoff fraternity.
“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.”
This is the first time since 2013 that Keselowski won’t be in the playoffs. Since this format began in 2014, he’s been in the postseason each year. In fact, he has 2 Championship 4’s to his credit.
Now, he’s out.