Debris slows Brad Keselowski, costs him win at Pocono

Leave a comment

If things would have gone a bit more his way in five particular races thus far this season, Brad Keselowski could theoretically be running away with the Sprint Cup points lead right now.

But instead of hoped-for wins, Keselowski came up short at those five races, finishing third at Daytona and Phoenix, fourth at Richmond, second last week at Dover and – much to his chagrin – second again in Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Keselowski dominated the Pocono race, leading 95 of the 160 laps, but debris on the grill of his Team Penske Ford late in the race caused his car to start overheating.

“The car was real hot,” Keselowski told TNT. “We had a really fast Ford. Just got a big piece of debris on the grill and I had to do something or it was going to blow up.”

He didn’t want to take a chance that the motor would grenade, so in an effort to suck the debris off the grill, he got behind the lapped car of Danica Patrick.

Unfortunately, Keselowski lost momentum when Patrick slowed unexpectedly, allowing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to motor on to the victory, with Keselowski ultimately winding up in second place.

“I tried to make a move to get behind the 10 (Patrick) and use the air to pull the debris off it,” Keselowski said. “But when she got into the corner, she got loose and I just chased her up there and lost too much momentum.

“I should have just passed her, but I had to do some kind of move. The car wasn’t going to make it. It was already starting to blow up. It was all I could do.

“Dale made a heck of a move to take advantage of it and that’s sometimes just how racing goes.”

But Keselowski can’t be all upset: he jumped three places from eighth to fifth in the Sprint Cup rankings after Sunday’s race at the 2.5-mile so-called Tricky Triangle at Pocono.

Keselowski hopes to avenge his shortcomings in those five races this coming weekend on his home track at Michigan International Speedway.

He’s never won a Cup event on MIS’s high speed two-mile oval. In fact, his results there have been less than inspiring: just two top-five finishes in nine starts there.

But Keselowski hopes to turn that trend around next Sunday.

“We’re hitting the summer stretch with a lot of momentum and I’m really proud of my team,” he said. “I just wish I would have executed a little better (Sunday) and got the win.

“I should have just ran it and seen if it would have blown up. I don’t think it would have made it – maybe it would have – but I didn’t want to do that to Doug Yates’ engine shop. It would have been unfair to them.

“We had a real good car, Dale and I were pretty equal, and he made the right move at the end.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.