With no wins so far this season, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski could have gotten himself one if he had wrecked Kyle Busch in their last-lap battle today at Watkins Glen International.
But while wins are certainly the top priority for Keselowski – one of several trying to break into this year’s Chase – he wasn’t going to take Busch out.
“Even if you don’t end up in the Top 20 [in the championship], I’d rather be a wild card with four or five wins than be a guy in the Chase with zero wins,” he said after finishing second in the Cheez-It 355.
“I guess I don’t look at it that way, but I could have definitely dumped Kyle and won the race. That stuff goes back and forth. I’m sure someone in the tabloid side of the media will make a big deal about that, but it won’t be me because I know I did the right thing.”
Keselowski admitted that the temptation was there to take out Busch in the final corners, but “there’s a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man.”
He also referred to their last-lap incident last year at the Glen, when both drivers ran across some oil on the track and Keselowski wound up punting Busch to take the lead. Marcos Ambrose would then hunt down and pass Keselowski for the win in a dramatic finish.
“I felt like last year was a racing deal – [Busch] went off the track, I filled the hole and he came down,” explained Keselowski on Sunday. “If I would have wrecked him today, in my mind, it wouldn’t have been a racing deal. It would have been just wrecking and there’s a huge difference.
“When somebody blocks you, that’s different. When somebody runs off the track and pulls down in front of you, that’s a racing deal. Those are all just racing deals. When you just run in the back of someone and drive them head first into the wall, that’s BS racing and I just don’t like it.”
Keselowski was in position to race for the win despite an early spin while trying to battle with Jamie McMurray for a spot on the track. He gave credit to crew chief Paul Wolfe for the strategy that got him back up front.
“Paul just saved my butt after I tried to screw up the day,” he said. “We’ve had some races where strategy has bit us in the butt royally and today was one of those days where we caught a good break. That’s just being quite frank about it.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize on it, which is disappointing – capitalizing on it in the sense of a win – but this is the first race in a long time where I can say we caught a break.”