Apr 7, 2014, 5:32 PM EDT
While the former Sprint Cup champion had fallen from second to fourth after pit stops leading up to the green-white-checkered finish, he had followed Logano’s lead and taken four tires; new leaders Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers had went with two.
But the advantage of fresh rubber, along with his chances of becoming the first repeat winner in the 2014 Cup season, were dashed when NASCAR informed him and the No. 2 team that he’d been caught speeding on pit road.
Forced to start at the tail end of the longest line, Keselowski would wind up coming home in 15th after leading 85 laps, second-highest among the leaders in today’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Logano, starting third on the final restart, would charge past Vickers and then Gordon on the final lap to win the race.
“That last caution was a shame,” Keselowski said afterwards. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road and wanted to get us out front to be able to win the race and tried a little too hard.
“[It was] a normal pit road deal. We’re in it for wins. We’re not in it for finishing second. Second or 15th is the same for us, so you’ve got to go for the win.”
Keselowski’s day began strangely, when the side of his hood popped up as a result of going past one of the powerful jet dryers that were getting rid of stray wet spots on the track leading up to the start.
Multiple other drivers had the same issue with their hood flaps, but Keselowski’s episode seemed the most serious. After several stops in the pits under the 10-lap green/yellow segment that opened the race, his crew eventually taped down both sides of the hood and that was that.
However, NASCAR chose to have those affected by the jet dryers be able to keep their original starting spots, meaning that Keselowski could begin the race from the front row alongside pole sitter Tony Stewart.
“I was definitely wondering what happened,” Keselowski said about the situation. “I knew it was the jet dryer that caused it, but it was one of those freak deals.”
When the race finally got underway, Keselowski stayed within striking distance until he was able to take the lead from Stewart at Lap 77. He would stay ahead through a cycle of green flag stops but lost the point to Denny Hamlin at Lap 122.
Still, Keselowski remained competitive and would find himself in the lead once more by clearing Jeff Gordon off of Turn 2 on Lap 184.
But on a later restart at Lap 227, Keselowski was jumped by Logano for P1 and from there, it effectively became Logano’s race to lose until Kurt Busch‘s tire came apart and put debris on the track with two laps left.
Fortunately for Logano, he had enough car to ensure that he would indeed be triumphant in the end.
“Joey was just awesome today. He had a great car and did a great job,” said Keselowski. “…We just needed a little bit more for [Logano], but had a really good day going all the way until the end.
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