The final stage of the Hollywood Casino 400 ended Brad Keselowski’s season.
Seventh on the playoff grid going into the day, Keselowski had 20 points on the cutline to protect. For much of the afternoon at Kansas Speedway, he and his No. 2 Team Penske group were doing what they needed to do; but then his Ford Mustang got loose in the final stage and he began drifting backwards.
Sitting 19th by lap 194, Keselowski said over the radio that he was doing all he could “without fencing it.” He didn’t make up much ground during the final stint and fell a lap down with 40 laps to go.
From there, things changed quickly. A caution flew with 15 laps to go that saw Keselowski take the wavearound, which meant he couldn’t pit for new tires. Restarting 17th with nine laps to go, the picture was clear that Keselowski needed every point he could get to advance as Chase Elliott started his charge toward the leading group.
Then came a caution with four laps to go that set up overtime, and suddenly Keselowski felt like he was back in the game. Knowing he was going to pit for tires, Keselowski told crew chief Paul Wolfe he’d cool the temperatures down as they thought about any adjustments.
“Yeah, I did think we were OK; but obviously we weren’t,” said Keselowski.
The positions didn’t come on the restart, then another caution set up a second overtime. Keselowski had one more shot to advance but lost more spots and wound up 19th at the finish. Elliott finished second and jumped into the next round by three points over Keselowski.
“We didn’t make it,” said Keselowski, who bounced off the backstretch wall on the second overtime attempt. “I pushed as hard as I knew how (but) didn’t quite do good enough on the last restart, and that was it. We clawed as hard as we could. There were times it looked like we were going to be fine and times it didn’t. In the end, it didn’t work out.”
Keselowski had finished no worse than fifth in the first round of the playoffs but had results of 11th, 25th, and 19th in the Round of 12. He won three races during the regular season.
“Go win Martinsville,” said the former champion on moving forward.