Brad Keselowski didn’t think his engine would last to the finish, so he relinquished the lead with five laps remaining in the Pocono 400 Sunday and had to settle for a second-place finish at Pocono Raceway.
Keselowski had trash on the grille of his car, and with his engine temperatures rocketing, he tried to slow down and get behind the car of Danica Patrick to use the air from her car to dislodge the trash.
But Keselowski couldn’t execute the move, and was stuck with the worst outcome — trash still on his grille and little hope of catching leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt went on to win the race and Keselowski’s car lasted to the finish as he placed second.
“It was definitely a mistake because the engine made it,” Keselowski said in his postrace news conference. “But it probably shouldn’t have. It was one of those deals, I think I was going to get passed because I was really down on power down the straightaway.
“I don’t know. I think so (it was a mistake), but it’s hard to say.”
Keselowski said he believed the engine would have blown, so at the time, he did what he thought was best. But obviously his voice carried disappointment after he led 95 of the 160 laps only to finish second.
With a win already this year, Keselowski said the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format that places a greater emphasis on wins did not impact his decision.
“I ran it like I would have ran it no matter what,” Keselowski said. “It was going to break and I thought I had a shot to clean it off and not lose time, and I misjudged it.”
KAHNE UPSET WITH BUSCH
Kasey Kahne wasn’t happy with Kyle Busch after their accident with 17 laps remaining Sunday in the Pocono 400.
The accident occurred on the lap following a restart, and Kahne was on the outside of Busch, who appeared to try to cut in front of Kahne. Contact between the two sent Kahne into the outside wall twice, ending his day.
“I had just passed Kyle and I caught (Ryan) Newman (and) I was passing him off Turn 3,” Kahne said on the race radio broadcast. “We were side-by-side so Kyle was able to get a good draft down the straightaway.
“We got to Turn 1 and I was on the outside and then he knew if he didn’t clear me there that I would pass him back because I just had. So he just floored it and didn’t care there was someone out there and ran me right in the wall.”
Last year, Busch had a few races where he accidentally wrecked Kahne, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there were some sour feelings.“That’s just Kyle being Kyle. … He just races however he races,’’ Kahne said in a story posted by MRN.com.
Kahne finished 42nd and dropped three spots in the standings to 21st. The accident also took out Carl Edwards while Busch was able to continue and finish 12th.
JOHNSON'S THREAPEAT TAKES HIT
Jimmie Johnson's hopes of winning his third straight Sprint Cup race took a severe hit Sunday when he hit Marcos Ambrose on pit road during the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Johnson, who had won Cup races the last two weeks at Charlotte and Dover, started 20th Sunday but had raced his way to fourth by Lap 66. He was attempting to leave his pits on Lap 73 when Ambrose was coming into his pit stall and the two made contact. After repairs to the front of his car, Johnson was 27th when he returned to the track before falling back to 30th.
He rallied to finish sixth.
Johnson’s car ended up perpendicular to the pit wall after he spun but he was able to back up into his pit stall for his team to work on the car.
Chad Knaus, crew chief for Johnson, took the blame for the incident, telling spotter Earl Barban to apologize to Ambrose's team.
“Earl, if you see the 9 car spotter tell him it was my fault,” Knaus said on the team’s radio. “I apologize.”
BIFFLE EXPECTED TO STAY WITH ROUSH
Greg Biffle is expected to remain at Roush Fenway Racing, although a deal is not yet signed, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Biffle and sponsor 3M will announce a contract extension soon, possibly as early as this week. The deal is expected to be completed but has not yet been signed, knowledgable sources told the Sporting News on Sunday morning.
Biffle throughout the year has said he wanted to re-sign with the team that he has driven for his entire Cup career and won a Camping World Truck Series championship and a Nationwide Series championship with.
The 44-year-old Biffle has 19 wins in 415 career Cup starts. He is 16th in the Sprint Cup standings entering the race Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Two months ago, Biffle indicated the deal was close.
“I have a feeling it’s getting closer,” Biffle said April 11. “I know there’s been a lot of activity. The program works really well for them. … Hopefully here soon we’ll have something.”
When the deal was not announced in the following weeks and Biffle began to have subpar performances, that increased speculation that he could leave Roush Fenway. On the Fox prerace show last week, Darrell Waltrip indicated that he thought Biffle could end up at his brother Michael's organization.
If the Biffle deal gets done as expected, Roush Fenway would have three Cup drivers signed for 2015: Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
Carl Edwards remains unsigned, and neither Roush Fenway nor Joe Gibbs Racing officials would comment last month on whether Edwards is negotiating a move to JGR.
DANICA TO F1?
Danica Patrick seems happy despite struggling in her transition to NASCAR.
But could Formula One be an option for one of the most accomplished female racecar drivers?
A couple of months ago, new Formula One team owner Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, dismissed the chance of any of his NASCAR drivers competing in Formula One.
“I’d certainly never expect any of our current lineup of drivers to want to be able to do that,” Haas said April 14. “It would be really impossible to accomplish that and survive. … Just the thought of jumping into a Formula One car from a Cup car would be very, very difficult.”
But when asked about Patrick during qualifying Saturday in Canada, Haas didn’t rule it out. He was asked if think she would be a candidate for one of the two seats in his stable.
“I think she would,” he said. “She would bring an awful lot of viewership. I think it would be great for America. I think she would be a great candidate.
“Whether that’s going to happen or not, that’s kind of a long-shot there too.”
Contributors: Bob Pockrass, Jeff Owens