Keselowski finishes 12th after late stop for fuel

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Brad Keselowski has always had a ‘win or bust’ mindset, but the reigning Sprint Cup champion was forced to play conservatively when it became clear that fuel mileage would not work out for him in the closing laps of today’s Pure Michigan 400.

After a Kyle Busch spin brought out the yellow with 42 laps to go, Keselowski stayed on the track in order to take the lead. But after having pitted about 10 laps beforehand, he was going to have to try and stretch his final fuel load out in order to win.

Busch spun again with 27 laps to go, but Keselowski’s No. 2 Penske Racing Ford team apparently figured that they were going to need too many more caution laps to make their strategy work out. Thus, the call was made to bring Keselowski in for a splash, kicking him back to 17th for the Lap 177 restart.

“It is the same deal every week. The yellows fall exactly the wrong way to screw up our strategy,” Keselowski said after he climbed back to 12th at the finish. “That can’t keep going that way. Its like Black Jack, you aren’t going to keep turning 15 or 16 on every hand. Eventually, you are going to turn a good hand. We just didn’t catch it today.”

But while Keselowski remains winless with three races left before the Chase, that 12th-place result looks a heck of a lot better than what it could have been without that last stop. Furthermore, it allowed him to stay in the Top 10 of the standings at eighth position, four points ahead of 10th-place Greg Biffle.

Of course, none of that was much solace to Keselowski, who said following his runner-up performance last weekend at Watkins Glen that he would rather “be a Wild Card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins.”

“I guess we made the right call, but I ain’t gonna like it,” he said on Sunday.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.