Aug 18, 2013, 9:18 PM EDT
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.