NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch celebrates in victory lane after winning the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. (Reuters)
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — If you want to find a driver who is not particularly thrilled with Kurt Busch’s victory in Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, look to the No. 2 Team Penske garage stall.
Brad Keselowski thought he had a potential race-winning car, but his chances disappeared early in a pit-road collision with Busch.
Keselowski took his Ford to the garage and lost 31 laps while his crew made repairs. He finished 38th.
After the race, Keselowski questioned Busch’s judgment in driving aggressively on Lap 42 of 500.
“If you’re going to be aggressive, wreck yourself, don’t wreck me,” Keselowski said. “I’ll remember that when it’s Lap 50 and he needs a break, and he’ll find his —- turned around in the wall. Just like he tore my car up.
“Once or twice when it happens, you start to go, ‘Hey, it happens,’ but when it happens repeatedly, you just realize who the person is who’s at fault, and you just got to make sure you show them you’re not going to take that, and I’m not going to take it, and I know the 2 team’s not going to take it.”
Busch was surprised at the vehemence of Keselowski’s reaction to the incident, especially after Keselowski tried to exact payback on the track.
“Yeah, I can’t believe he overreacted and he’s as upset as he is,” Busch said. “The 5 car (Kasey Kahne) was trying to pull into his box. Brad ran into the back of him. I steered right to go around Brad and then he clobbers our left-side door, and it’s like, OK, accidents happen on pit road. It’s congested.
“It’s not a place to race, because of all the pit crew guys down there and I didn’t think much of it, and then once we were back out running, he targeted us. He was aiming for us. He tried to flatten all four of my tires. That’s a no-fly zone. That’s a punk—- move and he will get what he gets back when I decide to give it back.”
SOLID RUN FOR EARNHARDT: In all honesty, a third-place finish was as high as Dale Earnhardt Jr. could have hoped in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville.
Earnhardt had the best seat in the house for the decisive battle between race winner Kurt Busch and runner-up Jimmie Johnson, but he did not have enough left to mount a change at the end of the race.
The key to Earnhardt’s success was self-restraint.
“You had to just discipline yourself to not use the throttle,” said Earnhardt, who regained the series lead by nine points over second-place Matt Kenseth. “I think we’ll have a lot of fun looking at the throttle trace on some of the runs, because I was quarter-throttle at the max.
“I was real patient all day, saving the left rear and just waiting till the end to see where we’d be. Inside 38 laps to go, I thought everybody was going to go like hell, and we all did and ended up running third.”
As the laps wound down, Earnhardt’s car began to fade.
“I was losing my car pretty fast the last five laps, so I didn’t have anything else to get there (to Busch and Johnson),” he said. “I got a couple of lapped guys give the outside instead of the inside. That’s their right, but that cost me a little time and maybe some wear on my tires.
“I thought when we passed the 22 (Joey Logano, for third) we might be able to roll up there and get in the middle of the race for the win, but, no, those guys’ cars, they were pretty good.”