Brad Keselowski rallied from an early speeding penalty to finish third Saturday night in Kentucky, prompting him to commend his Penske team on the radio afterward.
“Well, first off, we’ve had decent speed in qualifying on the mile‑and‑a‑halfs,” Keselowski said. “We’ve been right in that fifth- to sixth‑place range, but I feel like when they drop the green the leaders just drive away from us, and this week — at least at the start of the race — we were able to run with Martin [Truex Jr.]. As the race progressed we couldn’t stay with him, but all in all, that’s still as fast as we’ve been on a mile‑and‑a‑half this year, and that’s something commendable for my team, and I just wanted to make sure they got that recognition.
“We’ve been good, not great this year, and this is a sport of great. You’ve got to be great to win, and this is the closest we’ve been to great this year on the mile‑and‑a‑halfs.”
The speeding occurred on Keselowski’s Lap 39 pit stop, his first of the night which was under green flag conditions. At first, Keselowski claimed he wasn’t close to pushing the limits but then he realized where he had goofed. “I see now, I had the wrong line,” he admitted. “There’s two lines there. Sorry about that.”
Pit road speed is measured between the yellow line at the entrance to pit road and the yellow line at the exit of pit road. Keselowski thought he had passed the speed line at the exit of pit road when he was busted.
Keselowski fell from second to 18th by the end of the stage.
Still out of the picture for most of the second stage, crew chief Paul Wolfe got the team’s track position back through strategy. Wolfe called for two tires on the pit stop at the stage break, giving Keselowski the lead on Lap 164. Keselowski led 38 total laps on the night.
“Up and down all night — we ran second behind Martin there at the start, and I felt like we were a little bit better than him at the beginning of the race, and as we transitioned into the night, we kind of lost a little bit of speed,” Keselowski said. “I got the pit road speeding penalty, which was a real kick in the you‑know‑what’s, track position‑wise.
“My crew chief Paul Wolfe made a good call to get us some track position back, and we took the lead there and were trying to just run, run, run as fast as we could, and Martin just ran us down and got by us pretty honest. So, he was just super strong, and that was all we had.”