Brad Keselowski’s frustration was hidden behind a veil of sarcasm, as he stood outside the infield care center at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’ve got to wreck more people and then they’ll stop blocking me late and behind like that. That’s my fault,” Keselowski said. “I’ll take the credit for my team and we’ll go to Talladega and we’ll wreck everybody that throws a bad block like that.”
The bad block he referred to was thrown by race leader William Byron, who shifted from the top lane to the bottom to stall Keselowski’s run on the bottom. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was right behind him, caught his right-rear corner panel as he moved back towards the bottom and hooked him into the outside wall, triggering a 26-car wreck on Lap 54 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
“Ricky was doing the best he could to give me a good push and had a great run to take the lead and the car in front of me just threw a late, bad block,” Keselowski added. “I made the mistake of lifting instead of just driving through him and that’s my fault. I know better than that.”
“Yeah, I thought he (Byron) blocked him, but I did that here in February and threw an aggressive block down the back straightaway that in turn caused a big crash like that too,” Stenhouse said after the race. “I can see it from Byron’s side and from my side I was a little frustrated he threw the block, but then again I can’t be too mad because I felt like I did that in February.”
Keselowski’s car turned up the track, clipped Kurt Busch’s car and slammed into the outside wall, going into Turn 3. Chase Elliott t-boned him, veered down into the path of Denny Hamlin, which gaggled up Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez.
“…I don’t know, I think the best I can remember Brad (Keselowski) had a pretty big run on William (Byron) and I don’t think William was clear, but he didn’t know he wasn’t clear and then Brad tried to get on the brakes really hard to stop for him. We were getting really close to the corner so he couldn’t enter on the apron and whoever was behind him hit him and turned him up the track. Not really a whole lot you can do about that.”
Officially, 26 cars suffered some level of damage in the Lap 54 incident.
For Keselowski and Busch, the wreck didn’t hamper them in points. Both leave Daytona in the Top-10. Elliott’s points loss from his 34th-place finish was compounded by teammate Alex Bowman finishing in the Top-10 and Stenhouse finishing the race. He leaves 37 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff spot.