Keselowski's Charlotte challenge goes up in tire smoke

Image by Jarrett/LAT

Keselowski's Charlotte challenge goes up in tire smoke

NASCAR

Keselowski's Charlotte challenge goes up in tire smoke

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Brad Keselowski took his time unbuckling, emerging from his helmet, and getting himself out of his Team Penske Ford Mustang before taking a slow walk around to the right side of the car.

Having led 76 laps in the Coca-Cola 600, Keselowski took an assessment of the damage to the No. 2, which ended his night with less than 10 laps to go. Having already had an up and down race to that point, Keselowski was running inside the top 10 when he spun off Turn 4 and had to pit for a flat right rear tire.

He told RACER the tire went down after he lost power steering and then “knocked the wall down.” He finished 19th.

Sunday had started a much different way. Coming from the 21st starting position, Keselowski was credited with leading five different times by Lap 200, claiming both Stage 1 and Stage 2. Falling off a bit through the third stage, Keselowski was running back inside the top 10 as the final 50 laps began to click off.

But an untimely caution on Lap 361 when Denny Hamlin’s right front tire came apart — just after Keselowski had made a green flag pit stop — resulted in him having to take the free pass. From mid-pack, Keselowski’s rebound was then cut short when he brought out the race’s final caution on Lap 392.

“We were very fast,” he said. “The Gibbs cars were all really good, but just kept blowing tires, and [I] felt like when we got long runs, we could beat them. Tried to use the right strategy to do that and somebody blew a tire and [we] got trapped a lap down there at the end.

“Fought back and I had some issues with the steering, and I couldn’t correct it fast enough, brushed the wall and then got a flat tire; kind of ruined our day.”

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