Brad Keselowski was the class of the field in tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway, but one mistake may have cost him the win.
Driving the No. 22 Team Penske Ford that he and Ryan Blaney drove to Nationwide wins on the 1.5-mile oval last season, Keselowski led a race-high 138 laps and was pacing the field when he made a green-flag pit stop at Lap 149.
But the former Sprint Cup champion was tagged for speeding on pit road and forced to serve a drive-through penalty.
That sent him out of the Top 15, but hard driving and multiple late cautions gave him a chance to pull off a comeback before he finally came up short in second behind winner Kevin Harvick.
“It’s just part of the job,” Keselowski said about regrouping after the penalty. “It’s a high-stress environment inside of a race car, and it’s our job to deal with it if we’re going to be professional and win races and be competitive.
“I’ve gone through some adversity before, and that’s not the worst thing in the world that can happen to you. We got through it the best we could – obviously, not quite good enough with finishing second – but still, pretty well.”
After serving the penalty, Keselowski took a restart with 39 laps remaining in 17th but quickly charged into the Top 10. Three more cautions came out during the remainder of the race, which played into his hands as he was able to keep moving up the pylon.
On the final restart with four to go, Keselowski moved from fourth to get past Paul Menard and then Kyle Busch for second. But Harvick had too much car in the waning moments.
“I thought Kevin at the end was just as fast, if not a touch faster,” Keselowski conceded. “We had a really good, dominant daytime car, but with the race finishing at night, we were all probably equal then.
When asked if he could have reeled in Harvick with 10 more laps, Keselowski replied in the negative.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “We weren’t really gaining on him. He looked pretty good.”