The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Failed Keselowski strategy at Pocono was his attempt to grab another victory

  • Print

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Winning, we've been told since the beginning of the year, is all that matters now in NASCAR.

A win should earn a driver a coveted berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Multiple victories would give a driver valuable bonus points to be used when seeding the Chase field.

Brad Keselowski wants those bonus points. He's already got the one victory needed to put him in the title hunt, and now it's about separating himself from the field.

Yet there seemed to be some questioning, criticism and second-guessing after his failed strategy to win on Sunday at Pocono Raceway. Keselowski dominated the race and seemed headed to an easy win until debris — a hot dog wrapper? a napkin? let's just call it garbage from the grandstand — somehow found its way to the front grille of Keselowski's car. It's a common occurrence in racing, where properly disposing of trash is not a common occurrence, and the results can wreak havoc on a race car.

That's the position Keselowski found himself in during the closing laps at Pocono, where his shot at what had seemed to be a sure victory was suddenly in question. Debris on the grille causes engines to overheat, and drivers don't have a ton of time to figure out a way to knock the garbage off the nose. As temperatures rise, the engine begins to lose some of its power, and if it gets hot enough, the engine will blow.

From Keselowski's view inside the cockpit of the No. 2 Ford, he couldn't win the race with the debris on his car. Either the engine was going to break, or Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to run him down.

"I think I was going to get passed because I was really down on power down the straightaway," Keselowski said. "I don't know. I think so, but it's hard to say."

So Keselowski tried to get the debris off his car by running behind Danica Patrick in the hope that air coming off her lapped car would blow the garbage away. Only she didn't seem to know what he was doing, and appeared to try to get out of the way of the leader.

He misjudged his move, lost momentum and Earnhardt chased him down for the lead. Keselowski's only hope was to catch Earnhardt and get close enough to the new leader to free the debris so that he could he could attempt to get back to the front.

It didn't work. Earnhardt cruised to the victory, Keselowski settled for second and there was plenty of head-scratching about his decision.

The second-guessing from fans and commentators is ludicrous. In a winning-is-everything environment, Keselowski is being criticized for trying to win.

Even Earnhardt conceded Keselowski did what he had to do.

"I don't know what his temperatures were, but they must have been very, very hot for Brad to do that," Earnhardt said. "That had to have been the toughest choice for him. I felt really bad for Brad to be honest in that particular instance to see him in such a situation that he had to be that desperate.

"He's the kind of guy that would have just put his foot in it and tried to make the motor last. But apparently it was just more than he could ask for the engine to do."

Keselowski saw he had no other option than to try to force the issue.

"I was trying to do something to help my car out, and I knew it (the engine) was going to break, and I was going to get passed," he said. "I was trying to make whatever move I could do to help clean it off."

His car made it to the end of the race. Why not just roll the dice and push it until the engine blows?

In Keselowski's educated opinion, his fate was inevitable.

"We weren't going to make it," he shrugged. "It was already starting to (blow). It is just one of those deals."

The circumstances surrounding Tony Stewart's botched race Sunday are different from Keselowski's situation. But the motive — winning — remains the same.

Stewart had cycled into the lead with 48 laps to go when he was caught speeding on pit road, costing him a shot at his first win of the season. Stewart was pushing hard in an effort to make it back to Victory Lane.

"100 per cent driver error," Stewart said. "Great race car, just the driver screwed it up this week."

Keselowski also admits he made an error in how he attempted to get the debris off his car.

Mistakes happen. The driver and the team pick themselves up and move on to the next one, as both Keselowski and Stewart indicated they'd do.

Since when, though, do we fault them for doing what they thought was needed to win? It is the only thing that matters anymore.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Huge vigil held in support of Tina Fontaine, Faron Hall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012
  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google