Penske teammates trigger last-lap crash fighting for Daytona glory

Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

Penske teammates trigger last-lap crash fighting for Daytona glory

NASCAR

Penske teammates trigger last-lap crash fighting for Daytona glory

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Team Penske had two of its drivers less than a lap from potentially winning the Daytona 500 when it all went wrong in Turn 3.

“I had a big run down the backstretch and wanted to make the pass to win the Daytona 500, and it ended up really bad,” said Brad Keselowski. “I don’t feel like I made a mistake, but I can’t drive everybody else’s car. So frustrating.”

It started the lap before. The field had settled into a single-file train around the outside of the speedway after pit stops, and Keselowski began laying further and further back, appearing to set himself up for a run as the finish approached.

Joey Logano led the field, cycling to the top spot following the final round of green-flag pit stops. Keselowski was running fourth. In Turn 3 with two laps to go, Keselowski got his run and picked off two spots. Michael McDowell followed.

A lap later, it looked like the same situation was materializing. Keselowski got a run after a shove from McDowell, but it sent him right into the back bumper of Logano. Keselowski hit the outside wall head-on and was drilled in the right-side door by Kyle Busch.

“I had a run down the backstretch, and everybody was kind of checking up in the middle, so I went high to go around the outside,” Busch said. “I figured guys would kind of blend back to the high side, and the 2 (Keselowski) car just landed on my hood. Came out of nowhere.”

Logano spun to the inside, but his car then came back up into traffic and collected Ross Chastain and Ryan Preece. At least seven cars were involved in the crash.

“The Discount Tire Ford was not the fastest, but Jeremy Bullins and the whole team did a great job of keeping us in position, and right then, we were in position,” said Keselowski. “It’s exactly where I want to be running second on the last lap at Daytona with this package and had the run, made the move, and it didn’t work out.”

Keselowski didn’t lead a lap in the race that ended Monday morning after being delayed by rain for nearly six hours. Logano, the 2015 winner of the Daytona 500, led 26 laps, which was the third-most behind Denny Hamlin (98) and Christopher Bell (26).

What happened on the final lap?

“Pandemonium, I guess,” said Logano. “Chaos struck. The 2 (Keselowski) kept trying to back up, trying to get a run. I was trying to back up to him to keep the runs from being too big and just, I guess he got to the back of the 34 (McDowell), and it ended up being a really big run coming at me, and it seemed like we all just collided in one spot.

“It’s a real bummer that none of the Penske cars won, but at least a Ford won. I’m really happy for McDowell. I hate that we didn’t win with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. I feel like we had a great shot being where we were and leading on the last lap, but if we couldn’t win, I’m really happy to see McDowell win this thing. He’s a great guy, a great person, a good leader in life, and has helped me a lot in my life, so it’s very cool to see him win the Daytona 500.”

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