NASCAR Bristol Notebook: Penske Teammates Early Casualties Of Rain Of Rain Delayed Event

(NASCAR Wire Service)

By Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano (22) and Brad Keselowski crash during Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano (22) and Brad Keselowski crash during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BRISTOL, Tenn.—Before the start of Sunday’s IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach, team owner Roger Penske warned his drivers, front-row starters Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, to avoid contact on the first lap.

Perhaps Penske should have been at Bristol instead, to have the same conversation with his two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars.

Eighteen laps into Sunday’s rain-delayed Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes, in a light, misting rain was Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford slid sideways in Turn 4, as Keselowski moved to the outside of the lapped car of Alex Kennedy.

Keselowski tried to save the car but turned broadside into the path of teammate Joey Logano, who could do nothing to avoid ramming his teammate.

The accident damaged both cars severely. Logano took his No. 22 Ford to the garage, while Keselowski’s No. 2 entry sat covered on pit road through a lengthy stoppage for heavier rain that began falling moments after the wreck.

“The rain was coming in and out, and the car just took off on me,” Keselowski said. “I would like to blame the rain, but I honestly don’t know. Usually, when a car gets that far sideways and it’s kind of out of nowhere, there’s a reason behind it. I just really hate that I tore up my teammate in the process. That’s really a bummer. I felt like I had a pretty normal line, and it just flew crazy sideways on me.

“It’s a bummer for everybody at Team Penske to tear up both cars that way. I hate racing in the rain, but I understand the position that NASCAR is in. They want to get the race going, and this is one of those days where it’s going to just keep raining off and on, and we’re trying to get as many laps in at a time as we can to give the fans the best race possible. But we’re racing in the rain to do it, and that’s what happens.”

When Keselowski turned sideways, Logano had no time to react.

“Brad just got loose underneath that lapped car,” Logano said. “You start checking up, and it looked like he was going to have it saved, and he checked up more than I expected, and the next thing you know I’m in the back of him and we’re both headed towards the fence.”

Keselowski and Logano both returned to the track after a rain delay of nearly four hours. Keselowski finished 35th and Logano 40th.


When drivers were ordered to their cars after a rain delay of near four hours, Denny Hamlin wasn’t among them. Instead, Erik Jones was a surprise relief driver in Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota.

Having suffered neck spasms roughly 12 laps into Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes, Hamlin received treatment during the rain delay, but he opted to remove himself from the car because he didn’t feel capable of winning.

Jones, who won last week’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas and finished fourth on Saturday at Bristol, was a likely candidate for his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in relief of Kyle Busch later this season, but Hamlin’s exit pressed him into service earlier than expected.

“I pulled something in my neck to upper back,” Hamlin said in an interview with Fox Sports 1. “I started going backward because the pain was bothering me quite a bit. I stretched it out, and we’d been working it the last few hours.

“I’m not 100 percent. With this (Chase) format, it’s all about winning, and there’s no way I’d be able to compete for a win. It’s just doing my team a complete injustice to run a bunch of laps.”

Consequently, it made sense to get some seat time for Jones, who had to start from the rear of the field after the stoppage because of the driver change.

Jones flew to Bristol during the hiatus and arrived five minutes before the drivers were recalled to the cars. Ultimately, he finished 26th, six laps down, though Hamlin gets credit for the result because he started the race.


Even though Bristol doesn’t have characteristics common to any other race track, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s fourth-place finish—the first top five for Roush Fenway Racing this season—has to be an encouraging sign for an organization that has been floundering this year.

Stenhouse drove from sixth to fourth during the final two-lap overtime shootout in Sunday’s race.

“It’s good,” Stenhouse said of his top-five run. “It’s tough because we always feel like we can run well here. It’s not 100 percent what every track is like, and that’s the problem.

“We go to Richmond next week, and the track is old and it gets slick and wears out, and we need the car to turn a little bit better. We use the banking here to get the car to turn, so hopefully we can keep maintaining and getting our cars a little bit better each week.”

RaceDayCT One Mouse Click Ad

Follow RaceDayCT On FacebookFollow RaceDayCT On Twitter

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing